Jefferson P. Nolan
During each men’s home tennis match, team co-captain Andre Dome’s mother brings food for the players to snack on after the match.
For Dina Dome, it’s all about supporting the players and watching her son compete in his last season for Cal Poly. Dome, ranked 89th in the nation and Cal Poly’s top player, has been through five years of his mother’s snacks in a Mustangs jersey. But on Saturday’s home opener against San Diego State, she brought cookies; the team mom knew the match was special.
“I try not to give food (to the team) before they play because I don’t want to get blamed,” Dina said with a grin. “So I feed them after. It’s going to be (Dome’s) last year at Cal Poly. I’m just so proud of how he plays and the way he is.”
And proud she should be.
No. 57 Cal Poly (4-2) recorded two nonconference victories this weekend as the team prepares to defend its Big West Conference Championship title in April.
In the 2013 home opener, Dome and the Mustangs recorded their third triumph of the season when Cal Poly took down No. 64 San Diego State. Leading from the very beginning, the Mustangs were able to notch a 6-1 win on Saturday.
Doubles play began with junior Marco Comuzzo and sophomore Naveen Beasley defeating Spencer Simon and Shiva Sangwan 8-5. The Aztecs rallied, however, when Matt Thomson and Gannon Daynes fell 8-5 on the second court.
Co-captain Jordan Bridge and Dome battled to an 8-7 victory, securing the double’s point for Cal Poly.
The Mustangs proceeded to win five of six individual matches with the only Cal Poly single’s loss coming when the Aztecs’ Thorsten Bertsch defeated Comuzzo 7-6, 6-2.
On Sunday, the Mustangs took down UC Santa Cruz (0-2) at the Avila Beach Club. Despite losing a double’s match, each Cal Poly player notched a victory as the Mustangs swept the Banana Slugs 7-0.
“I just need to keep making sure my team plays the right way,” head coach Nick Carless said. “Winning is great, but I want us to win the right way with the right kind of spirit and the right attitude. The tangible goal for us is to be able to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Winning the conference will certainly not be an easy task at all. All of the schools in our conference are up this year, and obviously they’re gunning after us because we’re the defending champions.”
Before entering their home match against San Diego State University, the Mustangs went on a road trip to challenge No. 3 UCLA and No. 2 USC. Facing daunting opponents, Cal Poly emerged winless, losing 4-0 to the Bruins and 7-0 to the Trojans. But despite the losses — for Carless — it’s all about gaining experience for his players.
“I think that the matches against UCLA and USC just showed us the highest level we’re trying to aspire to,” Carless said. “It showed us what we needed to do a little bit better. I thought against UCLA we got caught up in the moment a little too much. We played the school too much. But against USC, we played solid tennis. It was good in that sense for the guys to experience the length of the points and the general quality of shot making that you have against a quality opponent.”
Cal Poly alumnus Marcus Wilkins graduated in 1980 and is a regular attendee at the men’s tennis matches. After his time spent cheering on the men’s tennis team, he knows what it means for the Mustangs to compete against the best in the nation.
“It gives me a lot of pleasure to see a school like Cal Poly compete on the same level as UCLA,” Wilkins said. “About eight years ago, they didn’t really have a national ranking. Now they have a few stud players, and it’s just a lot of fun watching them play. A lot of people don’t know that it’s one of the most fun games you can go watch, and it’s a non-revenue generating sport.”
After the pair of weekend victories under their belt, Dome and the Cal Poly team will host Loyola Marymount (0-4) this Sunday at 11 a.m.
“We want to translate our matches now to our matches in conference,” Dome said. “We want to show that we can play with the best. This is my fifth season, so I’ve been up and around the block a couple of times. I do everything for my parents. When I play, I try and play for them, and it’s so nice to have them out and supporting.”