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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Toledo men's tennis aims for MAC title

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

It's been a historic season for the University of Toledo men's tennis team.

The Rockets wrapped up their program-record 23rd win of the year and 12th in a row with a 7-0 sweep of Northern Illinois last weekend, and they can clinch an outright Mid-American Conference regular season championship with a victory at Western Michigan at 1 p.m. Friday.

UT and Western Michigan are both 4-0 in the conference standings, and should be the heavy favorites in next week's MAC championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Broncos are the five-time defending MAC champs, while UT hasn't won a conference title since 1973.

"We're just trying to keep our foot on the gas right now," UT coach Al Wermer said Tuesday.

The Rockets have been buoyed by their four-man senior class, which has won more team matches than any other group in school history.

Seniors Sven Burus, Aleksandar Elezovic, Gursher Harika, and Nutthavit Likitkumchorn were honored before last Saturday's home finale at Shadow Valley Tennis Club for their career record of 70-47.

"These guys have done well for us, and they've continued to improve," Wermer said. "Our big thing with our program is player development. I don't want guys coming in that are just going to sit on their scholarships and go and have a good time for four years.

"I want guys that want to continue to develop and be really desperate to get better. I wouldn't say we've exceeded expectations this year. The guys thought we could put together a good season, and we're on schedule to do that."

FACES IN THE CROWD: UT junior women's basketball player Naama Shafir will be featured in the "Faces in the Crowd" section of this week's Sports Illustrated. Subscribers will receive the issue today, and the issue hits newsstands Thursday. The section can also be viewed online Thursday morning at www.si.com/faces.

Shafir helped lead the Rockets to a Women's National Invitation Tournament championship with a 76-68 triumph over Southern California in the title game before a record crowd of 7,301 at Savage Arena on April 2. Shafir scored 40 points against the Trojans and was named WNIT MVP, as Toledo (29-8) became the first MAC school to capture a national postseason basketball title.

Shafir was also named to the All-MAC academic team with teammate Melissa Goodall Tuesday. Shafir is a business major with a 3.448 GPA, while Goodall has a 3.280 GPA and will graduate this spring with a degree in exercise science.

WOMEN'S GOLF: The UT women's golf team will compete in the MAC championship this weekend in Nashport, Ohio.

The three-day tournament includes nine schools and will be held April 22-24 at the par-72, 6,075-yard Longaberger Golf Course.

The Rockets placed third at the MAC Preview event at Longaberger in October.

Kent State is the only school to win the MAC women's golf championship in its 12-year history and is the favorite to win the tournament again this year.

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.



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