Two men advance toward state as tennis season ends

Steve Trader

The men’s tennis season is over for all but two Mesa athletes, both of whom have earned a spot in the upcoming So Cal regional tournament.

James Van Hess, in his first season, won his way through the singles division and into the semifinals of the Pacific Coast Conference tournament, earning himself a birth in the SoCal tournament.

In the doubles division, Van Hess teamed up with sophomore Mykola Orobey to earn a SoCal Regional match by way of another semifinal finish in the PCC tournament.

Van Hess, who competed throughout the year as the team’s number one in singles, thus far has a 6-8 singles match record.

The combination of Van Hess and Orobey, who make up the number one Mesa doubles team, also have a 6-8 season record going into the regional tournament. With Orobey standing at 6’8 and Van Hess at 6’4, the duo has earned the nickname “the twin towers”.

Despite the success of Van Hess and Orobey, it may be the team’s fifth singles player, sophomore Jose Madrano, who could come away with the season MVP honors. Madrano lost only two of his singles matches throughout the season, helping earn crucial team points.

The team ended their year with a 10-4 record and a third place finish out of eight in the PCC standings. According to head coach Dennis Oppeltz, it was overall a pretty good season. It’s been 10 years since the team had a first place finish in conference and, despite the loss of Orobey and Madrano, the return of Van Hess and other freshman has Oppeltz confident about the success his team may have come next Spring.

Van Hess and Orobey will have slight home court advantage for their matches in the upcoming SoCal Regional. The Barn Center in Point Loma will play host to the tournament on Thursday, May 3 through Saturday, May 5. Winners will move on to compete in the state tournament May 10-12 in Northern California.