Cowley/Willems Win Utah State Open

Matt Cowley and Cedric Willems (Photo by Chris Samuels, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Matt Cowley and Cedric Willems (Photo by Chris Samuels, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Salt Lake City, UT – Ute doubles tandem Matt Cowley and Cedric Willems have won the Ivory Homes Utah State Open Doubles Championships today, beating Stefan Cooper and Sanjay Goswami 6-2, 6-2 in the finals. The No. 1 seeded Utes dominated the tournament only dropping 7 games the entire tournament on their way to the title.

Earlier this month, the ITA announced that Cowley/Willems finished the year ranked No. 90 in the nation, becoming the first Ute doubles team to finish the year ranked since 2009.

In singles play, Cedric Willems reached the finals by beating his doubles partner 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals, but fell short in a close 3-set match to Spencer Smith, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, in the singles championship match.

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Eccles Tennis Center to Open Outdoor Courts in July

IMG_0646Salt Lake City, UT – After years of splitting time between facilities around the Salt Lake valley depending on the weather, the Utah men’s and women’s tennis programs will have an exclusive home for both indoor and outdoor play when the George S. Eccles Center’s outdoor tennis courts open on July 1. The outdoor courts at 550 S. Guardsman Way (1580 E.) will complete the George S. Eccles Center Tennis Center, which also includes the indoor facility.

The privately-funded $2.5 million project was spearheaded by a $1 million challenge grant from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and a $250,000 grant from the Lawrence T. and Janet D. Dee Foundation.

“We’re thrilled to continue to partner with Utah Athletics in enhancing facilities to better serve our student-athletes and the community and to ensure our success in the Pac-12 Conference,” said Spencer F. Eccles, chairman and CEO of the Eccles Foundation. “We’re excited about the potential for both our men’s and women’s tennis teams at the U. to be more successful than ever!”

The six outdoor courts have a Plexipave Acrylic surface–the same surface used at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and the Australian Open and known worldwide for its consistent speed of play, true ball bounce, durability, low maintenance and long-lasting colors.

Each court will be marked with four-inch ATP standard baselines and equipped with an electronic scoreboard and an eight-foot ATP standard umpire chair. Between the center courts, there will be covered chair-back seating for 388, restrooms and storage space.

“This is the single biggest thing to happen to both the men’s and women’s tennis programs in decades,” said head men’s tennis coach Roeland Brateanu. “We finally have a home to practice and to compete in, while offering our fans the best viewing opportunity in college tennis. We now officially have the best indoor and outdoor tennis complex in the Pac-12.”

Once completed, the outdoor courts will be available to the general public seasonally from May 1 through Nov. 1, weather permitting. To rent both indoor and outdoor courts or for more information, contact the George S. Eccles Tennis Center at 801-581-7075.

Opened in 1989, the George S. Eccles Center is undergoing a renovation to its indoor courts this summer in conjunction with the opening of the outdoor courts. All eight indoor courts will be resurfaced with the Plexipave Acrylic used on the outdoor courts and six electronic scoreboards have been installed. The Eccles Tennis Center’s indoor facility has a seating capacity of 1,500 and offers designated dressing areas for both the home and visiting teams.

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Willems/Cowley Finish Season Ranked No. 90

Cedric Willems and Matt Cowley Photo Credit: Chris Samuels, Daily Utah Chronicle

Cedric Willems and Matt Cowley; Photo Credit: Chris Samuels, Daily Utah Chronicle

Junior Matt Cowley and senior Cedric Willems finished the year ranked No. 90 in the ITA doubles rankings. Cowley and Willems teamed up to anchor the Utes at the No. 1 doubles position during the 2015 season. They are the first tandem to represent Utah in the end of year ITA doubles rankings since Wes Hancock and Phillip Eilers were ranked No. 49 in 2009.

Matt and Cedric accumulated a doubles record of 11-8 during the 2015 season, including marquee wins over No. 45 New Mexico, No. 55 Elon, No. 64 Denver No. 70 Utah State, and BYU. They also netted a win against then 57th ranked doubles team in the nation, Matt Hagan and Dominick Patrick of the University of Iowa.

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Egbert Weverink Transfers to Utah

Egbert "Eggy" Weverink

Egbert “Eggy” Weverink

The University of Utah men’s tennis team is pleased to announce Egbert “Eggy” Weverink has transferred to the University of Utah for the 2015/2016 season.

“We are super excited to add Eggy to our young team,” said head coach Roeland Brateanu, “Eggy is a big body, with an even bigger game and will bring a great deal of experience and maturity having played for a top 20 program in the nation. He’s a born leader on and off the court and is a huge addition to our program.”

Weverink hails from Amsterdam, the Netherlands and graduated from Caland Lyceum Amsterdam high school in 2013. He was raised by his parents Mariet van den Berg and Dolf Weverink along with his 19-year-old brother, Dobbe. Eggy attended Mississippi State University last year where he experienced a shoulder injury. After surgery and recovery, Weverink is excited to resume his collegiate tennis career with the Utes.Action 2

Eggy is a 6’8″ right-hander who had great success in juniors. He reached an all-time high junior ranking of No. 3 in the Netherlands. Weverink also ranked in the Netherlands top 100 for men’s singles and doubles. During his freshman year at Mississippi State, Eggy earned a 1-0 singles record and 2-2 doubles mark.

“I chose the U because of the great connection with the coaches and players and the high level of competition. I feel really confident that this is the place to reach my maximum potential on and off the court,” said Weverink, “I feel very honored to become a part of the Ute family. After facing a serious shoulder injury I am very thankful to get another opportunity to do what I love. I will give everything I have to help my team and I truly believe we can do great things together!”Action 1

Weverink made the Bulldog Honor Roll during his year at Mississippi State, and he plans to major in Business Administration on Entrepreneurship. He also strives to receive a Masters in Business Administration.

Weverink shares common ground with head coach Roeland Brateanu as both grew up in the same neighborhoods (Watergraafsmeer & Diemen), attended the same high school (Sint-Nicolaas Lyceum, neither graduated there), played at the same tennis club (Amstelpark, coach Kees Monteban), and support the same soccer team (Ajax). Besides tennis, Eggy enjoys participating in other sports, listening to music, and hanging out with friends.

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Utes Announce Team Awards

As the 2015 season has come to a close, Utah announced its team awards last Saturday at the annual team banquet. The categories of awards are Most Valuable, Most Inspirational, Most Improved, Academic Achievement, and Mr. Reliable.

Most Valuable
This year’s MVP award goes to sophomore Parker McGuiness from McKinney, Texas. Parker joined the Utes this season after playing at North Carolina State for one season, where he finished with a 6-4 record in singles and 5-3 mark in doubles.

Sophomore Parker McGuiness

Sophomore Parker McGuiness

During his first season at Utah, McGuiness garnered a 15-9 singles record primarily from the No. 2 position. He also netted an 8-5 doubles record mainly at the No. 2 spot. He made a splash in the Pac-12 with wins over Washington and Arizona. His non-conference singles record was highlighted by wins against No. 37 New Mexico and No. 44 Penn from the No. 1 singles position

McGuinnes earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for his role in defeating rival BYU on the road. Partnering with Jamey Swiggart at No. 3 doubles, he clinched the doubles point for the Utes beating Shane Monroe and Jeremy Bourgeois, 7-6(2). McGuiness earned a straight set victory at No. 2 singles over Andrey Goryachkov, 7-5, 6-2, propelling the Utes to the 4-2 victory over the Cougars.

Most Inspirational
A freshman from Mexico City, Santiago Sierra has been named the Most Inspirational Player for this season. As a junior player in Mexico, Sierra ranked in the top 10 in the nation (under 18) and earned an ITF ranking of 430.

Freshman Santiago Sierra

Freshman Santiago Sierra

Santiago exhibited passion throughout the season, inspiring his teammates and coaches with his energy and fight on the court at the No. 5 and No. 6 singles positions. Although he did not clinch a Pac-12 singles victory, Sierra earned crucial 3-set victories to secure two neutral site wins for Utah. As a last minute substitute, he defeated Neal Port 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-3 to clinch the match against No. 55 Elon, 4-3, in the first round of the Kick-Off Weekend, after a 4 hour and 35 minute battle. Utah defeated Yale, 5-2, following Sanitago’s  6-4, 2-6, 6-0 victory over Daniel Faierman.

Sierra and fellow freshman Johan Jonhagen found success at the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles positions. Playing against primarily upperclassmen, the tandem clinched 9 doubles victories for the Utes, including a conference win over Arizona.

Most Improved
Junior Jamey Swiggart has won the Most Improver Player award. He hails from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and this is his first season with Utah after compiling a 25-10 singles record during two years at Idaho State.

Junior Jamey Swiggart

Junior Jamey Swiggart

Swiggart did not make the traveling team at the beginning of the season, but he didn’t let that hamper his motivation. Jamey’s hard work this season paid off, as he played No. 5 and No. 6 singles during Pac-12 Conference play, securing a 1-2 record. Following senior Slim Hamza’s season ending injury, Swiggart teamed up with Parker McGuiness at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles to amass a 4-3 record, including a victory over Washington in the Pac-12 tournament.

Most Academic
Junior Matt Cowley has won the Most Academic award. This honor is bestowed based on GPA, rigor of courses taken, and overall academic performance.

Junior Matt Cowley

Junior Matt Cowley

Cowley grew up in Bountiful, Utah, where he attended Woods Cross High School. Cowley found success the court this semester, securing a 12-9 doubles record with parter Cedric Willems at the No. 1 position and positing 7 wins primarily at the No. 3 and No. 4 singles spots. Cowley’s performance is the classroom is just as impressive as his achievements on the court.

Cowley will major in psychology, and he plans to pursue the highest level of education possible after graduating next year. He strives to attain a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and a Masters in Business Administration. He also desires to be a professor

Mr. Reliable
Freshman Johan Jonhagen, from Stockholm, Swewden, has been given the first Mr. Reliable award. This honor is given to the player who exhibits accountability and work ethic throughout practices, training, class attendance and meetings.

Freshman Johan Jonhagen

Freshman Johan Jonhagen

In junior play, Johan reached an ITF ranking of 629 and helped his team win the Swedish National team Championships. His success continued with the Utes, as he netted a 8-6 record from the No. 5 and No. 6 singles positions. While Jonhagen was reliable in dual match play, his responsibility was particularly noticed by his coaches and trainers. Jonhagen never missed an appointment and was present at every practice and training session throughout the year, setting an fantastic example for his team.

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How is Dan Bleckinger?

From the left, Dan Bleckinger, F.D. Robbins, Jim Osborne, and Dave Harmon.

From the left, Dan Bleckinger, F.D. Robbins, Jim Osborne, and Dave Harmon.

Dan Bleckinger, a Utah men’s tennis great, is the next alumni in our “How Is…?” series. Dan played for the University of Utah from 1968-1970. Bleckinger is one of eight players in Utah men’s tennis history to earn an ITA All-American award, which he was awarded in both seasons that he played for the Utes (1969, 1970).

Bleckinger grew up playing competitive junior tennis in Wisconsin, and he received a scholarship to play for the University of Wisconsin. After winning a Big Ten championship during his freshman year, Dan transferred to UCLA for one year. After sitting out one year, Bleckinger transferred to the University of Utah in 1968 with a scholarship offer in hand.

Dan played 1st and 2nd singles during his time at the U. He had one of the most decorated careers in Utah men’s tennis, reaching the quarter-finals of the NCAA tournament in singles and earning All-American honors. After graduating in 1970 with a degree in sociology, Bleckinger traveled to Europe to try his luck on the pro tour; he won his first three professional tournaments.

Dan qualified for Wimbledon in 1972, making a run to the Round of 32 where he fell to No. 5 seed Jan Kodes of the Czech Republic. Bleckinger qualified for the Wimbledon singles draw again in 1973, when he also made a remarkable run to the Round of 16 in doubles with Billy Martin, who currently serves as the head coach for the UCLA Bruin’s men’s tennis team.

After his stint on the ATP tour, Dan settled down and got married. Dan has two children who are “doing well and successful.” Bleckinger worked as a legal assistant in San Francisco and later found success in the catering business. He retired on a farm in upstate New York but has since moved back near San Francisco. Dan now enjoys partaking in charitable service for the homeless and teaching tennis to kids. He is involved with two youth programs in Berkeley, Youth Spirit Artworks and Urban Adamah. If you would like to talk to Dan about helping support these organizations, contact him at danbleck67@gmail.com.

Congrats on your success on and off the court Dan and we wish you the best. Once a Ute always a Ute.

Q: Why did you choose the U?
Bleckinger: “They had a good team. (Coach) Harry James was a friendly person. I also liked the possibility of snow in the winter.”

Q: How do you look back at your time with the University of Utah?
Bleckinger: “I enjoyed all of the experiences that I thought I would. I enjoyed Salt Lake City. If I could do it over again I would work harder.”

Q: How did the University of Utah affect your career?
Bleckinger: “Through obtaining a liberal arts degree I learned about the whole world, society in general. Playing with great players on a great team helped me improve.”

Q: What is one of your favorite moments on court?
Bleckinger: “When I played against Menchek, the No. 1 singles player at BYU, I wasn’t exactly pleased playing against him. I remember a point when Mencheck hit a ball wide to my forehand then backhand. I thought he would hit to my forehand on the next shot, but he went to my backhand, so I twisted around and hit the ball without looking. I won the point and the crowd erupted.”

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Utah Shut Out in Pac-12 Championships

Cedric Willems

Senior Cedric Willems lead  7-6(3), 2-1 in his final match

OJAI, Calif. – The seventh-seeded Utah men’s tennis team (11-13, 1-6 Pac-12) was defeated by sixth-seeded Washington (13-10, 2-5 Pac-12) Wednesday during the first round of the 2015 Pac-12 Men’s Tennis Championships at Libbey Park.

The Utes started the match with a valiant effort in doubles action as junior Jamey Swiggart and sophomore Parker McGuiness defeated Joao Barra and Vik Farkas, 8-3 at the No. 2 position. The Huskies rallied to win at the No. 1 and No. 3 positions, taking a 1-0 lead into singles play.

Washington extended their lead to 2-0 as Junior Matt Cowley was defeated by Emmett Egger at the No. 3 singles spot, 6-1, 6-4.  McGuiness fell to Jake Douglas, 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 2 position, and freshman Freddie McGeehan suffered a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Gal Hakak at the No. 4 spot, giving Washington the 4-0 sweep. At the No. 1 singles spot, senior Cedric Willems was up 7-6(3), 2-1 against Mitch Stewart before the match was suspended.

No. 6 Washington 4, No. 7 Utah 0
Doubles
1. Emmet Egger/Jeff Hawke (UW) def. Cedric Willems/Matt Cowley (UTAH) 8-6
2. Parker McGuiness/Jamey Swiggart (UTAH) def. Joao Barra/Vik Farkas (UW), 8-3
3. Jake Douglas/Wendell Watanabe (UW) def. Johan Jonhagen/Santiago Sierra (UTAH), 8-2
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1

Singles
1. Mitch Stewart (UW) vs. Cedric Willems (UTAH), susp. (Willems up 7-6(3), 2-1)
2. Jake Douglas (UW) def. Parker McGuiness (UTAH), 6-1, 6-3
3. Emmett Egger (UW) def. Matt Cowley (UTAH), 6-1, 6-4
4. Gal Hakak (UW) def. Freddie McGeehan (UTAH), 6-2, 6-1
5. Jeff Hawke (UW) vs. Johan Jonhagen (UTAH), susp. (Hawke up 6-3, 5-4)
6. Viktor Farkas (UW) vs. Jamey Swiggart (UTAH), susp. (tied, 6-4, 0-6)
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 4

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