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.