Lobos Look to Return to MWC Championship Match
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/22/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 22, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -The NCAA bubble is not something that simply haunts Lobo basketball coaches Steve Alford and Don Flanagan. Lobo tennis coach Alan Dils also has to worry about that fragile and unpredictable bubble.

As of now, Dils thinks his Lobos are "on the inside looking out." But the whims and ways of an NCAA Selection Committee also is something Dils is wary of.

"We were the first team out (not invited) last year," said Dils. "So, one misstep and you are on the outside looking in, as basketball knows."

Just like basketball, there is one sure fire way to go to the NCAA Championships - win your conference tournament. The Lobos get that shot Thursday thru Saturday when the Mountain West Conference Championship come to Albuquerque and to the Jerry Cline Tennis Complex.

The Lobos open play at 4 p.m., Thursday against Air Force. The Lobos also can use the MWC tourney to pick up a few quality wins and possibly impress the NCAA Committee. Yes, there are at-large bids in tennis, too.

One good thing about this year's MWC tourney is that there are plenty of good teams around to beat and maybe pad a resume. It also isn't such a bad thing to lose to a few of those quality MWC teams.

"We have six really strong teams in the conference (TCU, BYU, UNLV, SDSU, Utah and UNM)," said Dils. "All six have been in the national rankings at one time or another. I think any of the six could get hot and win it.

"And the tourney is like starting over. It happens year after year in our conference where the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds don't make it to the finals. You are going to have to go out there and play well in order to reach the finals."

LOBOS VS. FALCONS: The 43rd-ranked University of New Mexico men's tennis team (17-5, 4-2 MWC) takes on Air Force (7-17, 0-5 MWC) in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Mountain West Conference championships. The match is set for Thursday, April 23, at 4 p.m. All matches in the MWC championship tournament will be played at the Jerry Cline Tennis Center in Albuquerque, N.M. The championships run through Saturday, April 25. UNM holds the second seed while Air Force is the seventh seed. The Lobos defeated Air Force 6-1 on March 27 to open conference play and hold a 30-3 record all-time against the Falcons.

GETTING THERE: To get to the Jerry Cline Tennis Center from I-40 exit Louisiana and turn south, head one block to Constitution and turn left and the tennis courts will be on your left. Parking will be on the south and east sides of the facility for fans and on the north side for teams, staff and media. Tickets will be priced as follows: • Adults: Tournament Pass - $10, Single Day - $5 • Students (18 and Under): Tournament Pass - $7, Single Day - $3

The Lobos made it to the championship match in last year's MWC tournament, falling to TCU 4-3.

At 17-5 overall and 4-2 in conference, the Lobos hold their best record since the 1968 season. The 1968 Lobos finished 20-1. The only losses of the 2009 season have come against then-ranked No. 23 Boise State, No. 25 Virginia Tech at the ITA Team Indoor Tournament, No. 52 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the HEB Tournament, and No. 45 TCU and No. 43 San Diego State in conference.

LAST TIME OUT: New Mexico dropped a narrow 4-3 decision to No. 46 San Diego State in a make-up match on Tuesday, April 21, at the UNM Tennis Center. The Lobos finish the regular season in second place with a 4-2 conference record. UNM secured the doubles point and lost the first three singles matches completed, forcing the match to come down to the final three singles. After Miles Bugby and Carl Ho notched three-set wins at the No. 3 and No. 6 singles spots, the match point came down to No. 4 singles. Ben Dunbar was narrowly defeated in the third set, 6-4, by Giovanni Vaglietti. The Lobos lost the first set in all six singles positions.

RECENT RANKINGS: UNM is now No. 43 as of the ITA poll released on Tuesday, April 21. The Lobos have not been ranked lower than 44 this season with their highest ranking coming at the No. 32 spot. Johnny Parkes ranks No. 79 in singles.

CHASING HISTORY: Seniors Johnny Parkes and Graeme Kassautzki are climbing the UNM all-time singles and doubles lists. Parkes owns the No. 4 singles spot with an all-time record of 93-41. Kassautzki is close behind at the No. 5 slot with a singles record of 91-44. The all-time singles leader is Divan Coetzee, who played for the Lobos from 2001-04, with a record of 96-30.

In doubles, Parkes currently is tied for 9th with a 73-45 record while Kassautzki is tied for 14th with a record of 67-46. Miles Bugby has also cracked the list, tied for 25th with a record of 52-34.

The all-time doubles leader is David Kowlaski who played from 2001-05 finishing his career with a 100-40 record.

No.1 FOR A REASON: Senior Johnny Parkes has lost only two singles match at the No. 1 position. Parkes is 20-2, including a streak of 14 straight matches. Parkes has only lost a combined seven sets in all 22 matches. His overall singles record on the year is 26-4, which is six wins away from landing on top of the most wins in a single season list.

CONFERENCE COMPETITION: Four other Mountain West Conference teams are ranked in the top 70 - No. 38 TCU, No. 46 San Diego State, No. 49 Utah, and No. 61 BYU.

IN CONFERENCE: The Lobos traveled to San Diego, Calif., for three conference from April 8-10, coming away with a 2-1 record. After dropping their first match to No. 45 TCU, New Mexico rebounded for wins over No. 46 Utah, 5-2, and No. 64 BYU, 4-3. Senior Johnny Parkes continued his success on the singles scene, winning three straight matches at the No. 1 spot, including a 6-2, 6-1, win over No. 62 Slah Mbarek of TCU and a three-set win over Utah's Wes Hancock. Fellow senior Graeme Kassautzki went a combined 5-1 in singles and doubles action. Kassautzki teamed with sophomore Joe Wood at No. 2 doubles for three wins. The duo topped TCU's Emanuel Brighiu and Adrian Simon, who were ranked 20th. In singles, Kassautzki dropped the first match of the weekend, but came back to win the next two, ending a four-match losing streak. Freshman Carl Ho was inserted into the No. 6 singles and went 3-0 to improve to 6-0 from the No. 6 spot this season.

The Lobos opened Mountain West Conference play with a bang, extending their win streak to seven matches with a 6-1 win over Air Force on Friday, March 27, and a 5-2 win over No. 65 UNLV on Sunday, March 29. Seniors Johnny Parkes and Miles Bugby both won two singles matches. At the No. 1 spot, Parkes continued dominating with a 6-0, 7-6 win over Air Force's Austin Francis and a 6-3, 7-6 win over UNLV's Elliot Wronski to improve to 16-1 this spring. Bugby jumped to 11-2 at the No. 3 singles spot for the spring with two three-set wins. The two also teamed up for two doubles victories in the No. 1 slot, including an 8-5 win over No. 65 Wronski and Luca Barlocchi from UNLV.

Freshmen Ben Dunbar stepped up in singles action for two wins at the No. 4 spot. Carl Ho appeared in the lineup at the No. 6 position and also secured two wins.

DYNAMIC DOUBLES: The Lobos are 17-5 in doubles as a team and have swept all three doubles point matches six times this season. Seniors Johnny Parkes and Miles Bugby are 14-6 at the No. 1 position while senior Graeme Kassautzki and sophomore Joe Wood are 15-5 at the No. 2 slot this spring. The Lobos are 42-19 in spring doubles. Kassautzki and Wood are a perfect 6-0 in conference doubles.

MWC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Miles Bugby picked up the most recent Mountain West Conference men's tennis player of the week honor on April 1. The Lobos have garnered five this season and three straight, through April 1. Senior Johnny Parkes has earned four Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors this season, Feb. 11, Jan. 28, March 18 and on March 25. Parkes began the season 12-0, going undefeated in singles and doubles.