UC Irvine tennis Coach Greg Patton and holidays are not the best of friends.
Two years ago at Christmas, Patton suffered a severe case of dizziness after a bout with a virus. Last Thanksgiving, it was a detached retina. And around Labor Day of last year, when he and his wife prepared to take a second honeymoon in Mexico, a hurricane hit the town they planned to visit.
This Easter holiday was quickly fitting the pattern after rain canceled Saturday’s matches in the UC Irvine tennis tournament and the Anteaters, who were a favorite to win the tournament, were knocked off Sunday morning in the semifinal round by Mississippi.
“This probably would have been the worst holiday,” Patton said.
Fortunately for Patton, the Anteaters rallied and scored a 4-3 victory over Big West conference rival Cal State Long Beach to finish in third place.
“They bailed me out,” Patton said. “I wouldn’t have gotten much sleep had they not at least took third.”
Forced by Saturday’s inclement weather to have most of the competing teams play two matches Sunday, tournament organizers devised a plan with a time-saving format that squeezed two days of matches into one. They used a plan called a 5-1 (five singles worth a point, and one doubles worth two). Typically in college, matches are scored using six singles and three doubles matches, each worth a point.
The different scoring plan proved to be part of the Anteaters’ undoing.
The 5-1 format is more suited to a team strong in singles play, and drew criticism from a majority of coaches, not the least of whom was Patton, whose team is ranked fourth nationally and has a strong doubles contingent.
In the morning matches, Patton broke up his top doubles combination, junior Trevor Kronemann and sophomore Mike Briggs, and placed more emphasis on the singles matches. But it backfired.
Kronemann and Shige Kanroji, a junior who had lost just one doubles match this season when paired up, were defeated in two sets.
So against Long Beach, Patton rejoined his top doubles team of Kronemann and Briggs and they responded with a 36-minute, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Brad Magers and William Moravec.
“We got up on them, 6-0 and 2-0, before they knew what was happening,” Kronemann said. “We just wanted to get it over as quick as possible.”
The Anteaters’ victory over the 49ers was not determined until the last match of the day, a 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 victory by senior Mark Kaplan over Pat Crow.
Texas Christian won the tournament, defeating Mississippi, 4-0.