Soufiane Azargui: Heartbreaking Ivy League Start – Princeton and UPenn

Written by: Soufiane Azargui


***19 year old Soufiane Arzagui came to Toronto from Morocco at the age of 10 and a half. Over the next 7 years, Soufiane developed as an excellent tennis player winning singles and doubles titles at the national and ITF level as well as maintaining a high academic level at Bateman High School in Burlington. After six years at the ACE tennis Academy he fulfilled his objective of receiving a scholarship to an Ivy League school, Brown University in September of 2010.  Soufiane will be blogging us on a regular basis about his freshman season.***


We hosted Princeton and UPenn this weekend for our first Ivy league matches of the season. Everybody was excited, as well as the freshmen being a little nervous because we have never been through something as intense as this in a team environment. Against Princeton, we lost 9-7 against their number one team but our other two teams picked up the slack as we escaped with the doubles point. We were up 1-0. Going into the singles, their #1 player overwhelmed ours, tying things up. Brandon had a huge win at #2 7-5 7-6 to put us up 2-1. At three singles, our other freshman Sam Fife lost a tight three setter to have us at 2-2. Tied 2-2, we needed our number four singles spot Kendrick Au to come through to put us up 3-2 because their #5 singles player was very strong and out in front early. Unfortunately, their #4 played unbelievable on the four match points we had to come back and win. Princeton up 3-2 you could cut the tension on our home courts with a knife, as everybody was so nervous for what was to come. I was playing at #6 singles and despite losing the first set, was making a run in the second. But we did not have it in us as their #5 singles player clinched the match for them to go up 4-2 just as I equalized the match at a set all. I ended taking the third but only to get us to 4-3. True heartbreaker to start the Ivies but hungry and looking to bounce back against UPenn the following day.


In facing UPenn, I was facing a friend of mine in the juniors from Alberta Phil Law because he is a junior at UPenn and still a great player. Brandon and I bounced back from our doubles loss the day before, winning at 1 doubles 8-5 and actually clinching the point for us. Up 1-0 again after doubles. We went into singles confident but their #1 singles player, a Moroccan ironically, won his match to tie the match at 1. Kendrick took care of business easily to get us up 2-1. I took care of business at #6 singles easily to get us up 3-1. One more point !!! But it was getting awfully tight. At #3 singles, Sam Fife was facing a tough opponent that mounted a comeback to take it to three and ultimately win the match. Brown  up 3-2, we still got two matches ! Then, at #5 singles, Tom Deighton lost against a tough opponent to have us tied at 3 all. Again, such a tight match back to back. It came down to freshman Brandon Burke at #2 singles against Phil Law, my buddy. Third set tiebreak, Brandon down 4-1, you look around at our team who have faces of defeat. But Brandon fires right back, 5 straight points including some disgusting backhands up the line for winners. Everybody is on their feet!!!!! Faces are now full of joy and anxiety. Brandon misses a forehand in the net, 6-5 Brown. Phil is scrapping for dear life very next point and Brandon hits a drop shot down the line on the backhand side and follows it in, Phil runs it down and rolls it past Brandon for a winner. Tied 6-6. then match point UPenn, then 7-7, then match point UPenn, then Phil comes up with a great drop shot that we can only stare at and watch bounce twice as a rush of UPenn players burst on the court and hold Phil up in jubilation. Another 4-3 heartbreaker! We are left stunned as we pick up the garbage on the court and head to dinner. Back at it next weekend to try and make it 2-2 as we face Cornell and Columbia on the road.

A New Reality By Nicolas Pereira

This past week in the World Team Tennis ‘Bubble” I have seen the efforts to keep everyone safe while carrying on a team competition with around 60/70 players and coaches onsite. Counting organizers, officials, media, and support personnel are around 150 people trying hard to make this happen. I am very impressed by how the strict protocol has been handled and how everyone is invested in making this event a success, but The Open is a completely different scale of details.

ONcourt Interviews NGTL Co-Founder Yves Boulais

It does not matter that you get your rating playing locally or that you had spent an insidious amount of money playing the ITF junior tour tournaments. Your rating is your level of play (you get no bonus for playing more or playing far away). This allows us to break free of the ITF competitive structure potentially saving us time, money, and headache. We see this as a great opportunity to improve the logistic of our sport.

Brandon Burke (son of ACE President Doug Burke) Elected to WTA Board

As revealed in a recent news release issued by the WTA Tour – Brandon Burke has been elected to the WTA Board of Directors (to start officially in September). Oncourt got together with Brandon to delve a bit more into his background and to gain some insight into this wonderful appointment he has attained at such a young age.