Published April 10th, 2013
Saint Mary's Wins in Nail-Biter
By Hunter Hewitt
Seif El Sherbini Photo Tod Fierner
Saint Mary's men's tennis player Seif El Sherbini let out an emotional roar, and his teammates rushed over and huddled around him in triumph after a tough win. El Sherbini beat Chas Okamoto of Hawaii in a hard-fought match on April 7, securing the victory for his team in what was a highly competitive non-conference contest.
The Gaels defeated the Warriors 4-3, improving their overall record to 9-9 with a 3-1 record in West Coast Conference play.
"It is really special to be in the deciding match," the junior El Sherbini said. "The team was counting on me, and I told myself it was now or never. I just went for it and everything worked out."
Saint Mary's began the day with an early 1-0 lead after sweeping Hawaii in the three doubles matches.
Senior Jesse Kiuru and freshman Thomas Hunt both prevailed in singles play, but the Gaels also lost three matches. With just one match left in play, the score was even at 3-3.
After El Sherbini and Okamoto split the first two sets, their final set came down to a tiebreaker. Fueled by the spirit and energy of his teammates cheering for him on the adjacent court, El Sherbini pulled away in the tiebreaker, capping off an emotional victory on a windy day in Moraga.
"Seif showed a lot of grit to come back in the deciding match," Gaels head coach Michael Wayman said. "The conditions were difficult today with the wind, and we haven't had that yet this year. I was expecting a close one and I'm glad we came out on top."
With five matches left before the WCC postseason tournament, Saint Mary's is currently tied for second place in conference. Wayman hopes his team can maintain its position and enter the postseason with the second-best record.
"We would love to be in the top two of the conference heading into the tournament," he said. "There are a lot of good teams in this conference, but I feel that we are starting to come into our own."
Although he is not ecstatic about his team's record, Wayman is very optimistic.
"We have a young team, and we are playing very strong programs," he said. "I can't say I'm happy with our record, but the record is not as important as the competition and the progress. I don't feel that we have played our best tennis yet, but the players are competing very well.
While he looks ahead to the rest of the season, Wayman is also looking to the seasons to come.
"I'm very enthusiastic about where this program is going," he explained. "We are on the verge of having an incredibly good program in the future. We are really knocking on the door."
Saint Mary's takes the courts again today, April 10 when they host San Francisco at 3 p.m.

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