You can barely catch a glimpse of a tennis ball traveling between the net and the court where the Saint Peter’s men’s tennis team puts up a fight, trying to earn a spot in the MAAC playoffs.
With a fresh new set of members, the men's tennis team has acquired six international players: freshmen Igor Khvorostian from the Ukraine, John Oxner from Canada, Piotr Sowinski from Poland, and Ignacio Tintore from Spain as well as sophomore Ivan Knezevic from Croatia and junior, Hector Andres Jacome from Ecuador.
In a match against Marist College on Feb. 15th, doubles partners Sowinski and Jacome as well as Oxner and Tintore fought long against the leading competitive school.
The promising athletes have adapted well to the collegiate athletic life and are training vigorously to earn a spot in the coveted playoffs which for the tennis team has not been done yet.
“Usually we’re out of here in an hour 30 minutes, but today they fought long,” said coach Mike Scolamieri.
Scolamieri has now spent the last 12 seasons training numerous sets of Saint Peter’s tennis players and said he has a strong feeling that this year may just be the year for the team.
“This year I have a lot of hope we make top four in the conference which we haven't done in years,” said Scolamieri. “I have a very young team and I truly believe two or three players could be the top players in the conference by their junior year.”
Khvorostian ranked the 10th player in the Ukraine among the 18 year old division, debuted in his first competition the Gran Canaria Yellow Bowl on April of 2017 and he later competed in Cherkassy, Ukraine in May 2017.
Moreover, Oxner was the 2015 Tennis Nova Scotia male athlete of the year, ranked 13th at Rogers under 18 Nationals and tied under his belt five-time Atlantic Provinces singles champion and two-time doubles champion.
Sowinski, who studied at the Academia Sanchez Casal a well known reference for its unique training in tennis, was coached by long-time tennis player Guillermo Celard. Sowinski’s last tournament before joining the Peacocks was the Poland F7 Futures in July of 2017.
Tintore, who goes by the nickname “Nacho,” has been playing tennis since he was four years old. He defeated players in the Top 500 in Spain, and played 13 years for the Real Club de Tennis Barcelona founded in 1899.
Knezevic made his collegiate debut against Queens, New York on Sept. 11, has appeared in 21 matches and recorded two wins in singles play as well as two double wins.
Jacome, who likes to go by his middle name “Andres,” is a transfer from Mercer County Community College but originally from Quito, Ecuador. Jacome, started playing tennis at the age of 14 and won the National Junior College Athletic Association singles titles in 2015 in Plano, Texas.
“I like the tennis program here at the school because it’s a very diverse team and we all get along really well,” Jacome said. “As a junior, I’m going to try and give it my all and since many of my teammates are freshman. It really depends on the consistency of the work we put into the game. I think the next few years are going to be great for the team.”
For more information about matches and all tennis details follow @sputennis on Instagram.