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Men's Tennis

Team captain Joakim Norstrom will lead a strong returning group next season.
Team captain Joakim Norstrom will lead a strong returning group next season.
MTEN | 2013 Provides Good Foundation For Future
Release: Monday 05/16/2013 
by SMC Athletics

MORAGA, Calif. -- The 2012-13 season might best be remembered by the Saint Mary's men's tennis team as one that established a foundation for years to come.

The Gaels finished 10-15 overall, and had several extremely close matches flipped their way, a .500 season wasn't far away.

But the lasting impact won't be shown in the final record. Instead, with new faces in the lineup and a new sense of accountability firmly in place, the Gaels could look back on 2013 as the season that served as a springboard for future success.

"The team did well this year, considering," Saint Mary's coach Michael Wayman said. "I can't say that I'm satisfied. Far from it. But I think the positive was I felt that there's a really good foundation set up for next year."

Individually, Jesse Kiuru earned a spot on the All-West Coast Conference Second Team for his performance at No. 1 singles.

Kiuru spent much of the latter part of the season ranked nationally, and provided two highlight moments with wins over two highly ranked players in UCLA's Dennis Novikov and BYU's Patrick Kawka.

The senior transfer from Maryland also played well at No. 1 doubles, teaming with Joakim Norstrom to provide stability at the top of the doubles lineup.

Of equal importance was the leadership provided by Norstrom. Playing primarily at No. 2 doubles, the junior from Stockholm, Sweden assumed the role of team captain and enjoyed the challenge, helping keep the Gaels on track throughout the season.

"Even when we've lost matches, tough ones, there's a certain routine that we still had to go through in terms of stretching and professionalism," Wayman said. "Jo really stuck with that. He called guys out if they weren't putting the spade work in. Within the team, it was really, really important."

There were certainly moments of brilliance from the team as a whole. A 5-2 win over No. 53-ranked Santa Clara helped the Gaels open the WCC season strong. That began a three-match winning streak to begin the conference season for Saint Mary's.

Another came at the WCC Championships in San Diego, where Saint Mary's enjoyed strong play throughout the lineup to defeat Portland 4-1 in a first round match. Samuel Bloore clinched the win with a 6-3, 6-3 victory at No. 5 singles.

"Generally speaking, there were some really good parts of the season," Wayman said. "There were some really good things we can build on for next year. The team is very solid and hard-working."

Now, the challenge turns to offseason improvement for the Gaels. Norstrom leads a strong group of returners next season, and with some new faces mixed into the group, a move forward will now depend on how hard the team works over the summer.

"Ultimately, with the lads we have on our tennis team, they're all moving in the right direction," Wayman said. "They know what to expect once we get the year started. Next year, we're going to be amping it up even more. We're looking to play at a higher level, and what they do in summer is most important."