After some bleak moments, Coach Ed Collins has the University of San Diego men's tennis program on the rise again.
Thanks to a couple of newcomers and three returning players who were among the team's top six last year, USD might have its strongest team in years. The Toreros finished unranked among the top 25 teams last spring, but were at 24th for part of that season after finishing the 1987 season ranked 24th in the country.
The Toreros faced some early-season collegiate competition last week when they played host to the San Diego County All-College tournament. The Toreros dominated the field by placing six players in the quarterfinals and three in the semifinals and made it an all-USD final.
A key for the Toreros this season will be freshman Jose Luis Noriega, who is expected to be the team's top singles player when the season starts in January. Noriega, from Lima, Peru, won the German and South American junior titles in 1987. Joining the Toreros is Chris Toomey, the top-ranked junior in San Diego in 1986. Toomey transferred to USD after playing No. 2 singles at Oklahoma for 2 years.
Also returning are senior Mark Farren and juniors J.R. Edwards and Dan Mattera.
"This team has more depth than any team I've had in my 11 years (at USD)," Collins said.
When the University of San Diego moved from the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.'s Division II to Division I for the 1979-80 season, the men's tennis program had the easiest time adjusting. USD was the Division II runner-up in 1979, with three players--Scott Lipton, Peter Herrmann and Terry Ward--who would be ranked later among the top 110 professionals.
But after they left, USD went into a decline.
"From 1983 to 1985 and even in '86, we weren't too tough," Collins said. "When you lose the top three guys in your lineup--especially players that all played professionally--it takes a while to build back up."
United States International's 94-85 victory over Tennesee State in the Ball State basketball tournament Saturday marked only the third Gull victory away from home in the 4 years Gary Zarecky has been coach. But more importantly, the victories have come in the past 2 seasons.
USIU defeated Florida International last season for only USIU's second road victory in the 9 years USIU has competed as an NCAA Division I team. USIU also defeated Rice last season.
"When you win one of these games on this kind of a road trip, it's a gem for us," Zarecky said.
The Gulls (3-2) won't have long to savor the victory as USIU continues its 10-game trip at Cal Berkeley today and St. Mary's Tuesday. USIU (1-2 on the trip) then plays Fresno State Friday before playing at Syracuse Dec. 14. The Gulls finish the trip at the Dartmouth tournament Dec. 16-17 and at Coppin State Dec. 19.
"We're a long way from where I want to be right now," Zarecky said. "We've got a lot of polishing to do. I think we'll be more polished by January."
Southwestern College's football team helped redeem the San Diego County community colleges with its 20-16 victory over Antelope Valley, ranked No. 16 in the state. Southwestern, which won its last 5 games of the regular season, moved into the state rankings the last week of the season at No. 24.
The five San Diego County colleges make up the Southern Division of the Mission Conference. But the schools did not fare well this season against the teams in the larger Central and Northern divisions, winning 3 of 24 games.
County coaches find it difficult to compete against larger schools in the other divisions. The Southern Division schools average 14,480 students. The 6-team Central Division averages 17,556 students and the 5-team Northern Division averages 21,021 per school.
"The first group out there can compete, but where it hurts is when we lose players to injury," Southwestern Coach Bob Mears said. "I think that's the difference. But I like this league; I think it's the toughest in Southern California."
Duffy Daugherty and Scott Carlovsky of Palomar College, Melvin McFarland of Southwestern and Reggie Webb of San Diego City were named honorable mention All-Americans by J.C. Gridwire. . . . Daugherty finished the regular season as the state leader in individual offense with 298 yards per game and passing yardage with 3,006 yards. He completed 233 of 421 passes and had 22 touchdowns. Carlovsky was fifth in the state in receiving with 64 catches for 796 yards and 10 touchdowns. Webb caught 50 passes for 884 yards and a state-leading 14 touchdowns. McFarland is a defensive back.