Oct. 18, 2011
ITHACA, N.Y. - The St. John’s men’s tennis team concluded one of its most successful fall seasons to date, as junior transfer Vasko Mladenov claimed the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regional Championship crown on Tuesday morning with a three-set victory over nationally ranked Marc Powers of Yale on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
With the victory, Mladenov becomes the first Red Storm player to qualify for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship, which will be held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., from Nov. 3-6.
After cutting a 128-man bracket down to two, Mladenov opened the championship match win a convincing 6-1 win in the first set, but lost the second frame, 4-6, to the sixth-seeded Powers to level the match at one apiece. The University of Texas transfer and fifth seed in the tournament rallied to take the third and final set by a 6-3 margin to claim the 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win. It was Mladenov’s second tournament win since joining the Red Storm in August, with both coming against Yale’s Powers. He also topped the Bulldog 6-4, 6-1 to win the Farnsworth/Princeton Invitational (Sept. 16-19) in his first tournament with STJ.
Mladenov opened the event with four-consecutive straight-set victories, and concluded the tournament with back-to-back three-set matches to win the title. After receiving an opening round bye, the 6-foot Bulgarian advanced to the round of 32 with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Harvard’s Alistair Felton, before topping 17th-seeded Damien David of Buffalo 6-3, 6-4 to reach the round of 16. He ousted Princeton’s Matt Spindler 6-2, 7-6(4) to reach the quarterfinals, and continued his run Monday with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over fourth-seeded Xander Centenari of Dartmouth to reach the semifinals. Mladenov followed with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 win over Cornell’s Venkat Iyer to set up the championship match against Powers.
With the exception of Mladenov, the event concludes St. John’s fall campaign. STJ posted a program-best 17 wins last spring and placed fourth at the BIG EAST Championship. Led by defending BIG EAST Coach of the Year Eric Rebhuhn, who is entering his 11th season, the Red Storm will look to climb back into the national rankings and post a NCAA Tournament caliber campaign.
“We have really high expectations heading into the spring,” said Rebhuhn. “This win was a tremendous achievement for Vasko and our program. The team has played really well in the past 4-5 weeks of fall action, as this has been one of our most successful fall seasons to date.”
Mladenov will return to action at the National Indoor Championship from Nov. 3-6, while the rest of the Red Storm will open its spring season in early February. To keep up with the STJ men’s tennis team throughout the offseason visit www.RedStormSports.com or follow the squad on Twitter by following @STJ_Tennis.