DENVER – The men’s tennis team finished its 2012-13 run with a 12-12 overall record. The Pioneers battled through injuries and nine-match losing streak before going unbeaten (5-0) in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) regular season play.
Denver entered the WAC Tournament as the No. 1 seeded team. The Pioneers defeated New Mexico State 4-1 in the conference semifinals and rolled past Idaho 4-0 to clinch their first WAC Championship and qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.
The Pioneers stunned the No. 15 Florida Gators with a 4-3 comeback victory in NCAA Tournament first round play. Redshirt senior Max Krammer (Perchtoldsdorf, Austria) trailed Florida’s Bob van Overbeek in the third set, but battled back to claim a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory. Almost simultaneously, junior Alex Clinkenbeard (Loveland, Colo.) rallied and defeated Billy Federhofer 7-5, 1-6, 6-1 to clinch the Pioneers first ever NCAA Tournament victory in program history. Unfortunately, the Pioneers fell to California 4-1 in the second round to end their fantastic season.
“I am so proud of this group.” Head Coach Danny Westerman said. “They believed in each other and played their best tennis when it mattered most. All the obstacles we overcame, prepared us to close the season the way we did.”
Senior Enej Bonin (Koper, Slovenia) capped off an impressive senior season by earning WAC Player of the Year, WAC All-Conference (singles & doubles), and WAC All-Tournament (singles & doubles) honors. Bonin also qualified for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Singles Tournament. He fell to Duke’s No. 9 seeded Henrique Cunha 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the first round to finish the season 23-8 overall and 13-2 in dual matches.
“Enej will go down as one of the all-time best Pioneers.” Westerman said. “He only lost two matches during the dual season and did a great job leading our team as the No. 1 singles player on our team. He won all three matches in the postseason, which showed his senior leadership.”
The Pioneers season was made possible by great play and leadership from the Bonin and his senior teammates. Senior Jens Vorkefeld (Ostercappeln, Germany) finished his final season 20-15 overall in singles, while boasting an 8-7 record in the No. 2 dual match slot. Vorkefeld was selected to the All-Conference First Team in singles and doubles, and All-Tournament team in singles and doubles.
Krammer battled hard all season, earning an All-Conference First Team nod in doubles with his partner Fabio Biasion (Velbert, Germany) and Second Team selection in singles. Krammer was also named a member of the All-Tournament team in singles and with Biasion in doubles.
“Max and Jens really stepped up their level in the postseason more than anyone I have ever coached.” Westerman said. “As Seniors they were ready for this moment, and were not going to let anyone take it away from them.”
Newcomer Henry Craig (Murrieta, Calif.) joined the Pioneers in Janurary and finished his freshman campaign with a 15-10 overall record in singles. Craig’s play was awarded, and he was named ITA Mountain Region Rookie of the Year.
Craig, Clinkenbeard and Biasion will return for the 2013-14 season as the team leaders, eager to return to the postseason.
“The future is bright for DU Tennis.” Westerman said. “We have three starters returning in Fabio, Alex and Henry, and all are very motivated to take this program another step. They got a taste of success and are hungry for more. This team now realizes it is not about talent, but truly being a team. Being a team is why we won the WAC and beat Florida in the NCAA’s.”
Team Most Valuable Player – Enej Bonin
Team Most Valuable Freshman – Henry Craig
ITA Mountain Region Rookie of the Year – Henry Craig
Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year – Enej Bonin
WAC All- Conference Second Team – Max Krammer (Singles)
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