Tag Archives: Athletics

Five International Toreros Earn Postseason Accolades!

Names: Uros Petronijevic, Filip Vittek, Jordan Angus, Romain Kalaydjian

Countries: Serbia, Slovakia, United Kingdom, France

Majors: Communication, Business Administration and Management

Languages: Serbian, Slovak, English, French


The No. 22 University of San Diego men’s tennis team (20-4, 9-0 WCC) swept this year’s postseason awards in all categories. The West Coast Conference recognized head coach Brett Masi, Uros Petronijevic, Filip Vittek, Jordan Angus, and Romain Kalaydjian, which was announced on Tuesday afternoon.

 From left to right: Uros Petronijevic, Filip Vittek, Jordan Angus, and Romain Kalaydjian 

After leading the Toreros to an undefeated conference record for back-to-back seasons, Masi was named Coach of the Year for the second time in his career (previous, 2011). Junior Uros Petronijevic earned conference Player of the Year for the first time in his collegiate tenure as well, while also capturing a spot on the All-WCC Singles First Team with teammate Filip Vittek. Additionally, Vittek and partner Jordan Angus were named to the All-WCC Doubles First Team. Angus, a junior, picked up two accolades as well — achieving an All-WCC Singles Second Team spot in his first year as a Torero. Junior Romain Kalaydjian also grabbed an award, receiving an Honorable Mention selection for singles.

Masi has clearly left his mark on the Torero program in only his sixth season. Not only has he led the Toreros to four-straight NCAA second round appearances, Masi is the first-ever coach to hold the longest-running undefeated record against conference play at 20-0. Masi also claims the highest winning percentage in program history at .833 (previous, .818 1980). This season, Masi and the squad captured the West Coast Conference regular season title, only allowing five points versus conference play.

Petronijevic, the Toreros’ No. 1 singles player, is currentlyranked No. 52 inthe nation. The Serbian currently rides a six-match winning streak in singles, while boasting an overall record of 20-10 and dual season record of 12-5. Petronijevic has filled very big shoes after Clarke Spinosa’s departure defeating seven nationally-ranked opponents in the 2014-15 season (No. 18 Denis Nguyen of Harvard, No. 45 Gage Brymer of UCLA, No. 29 Harrison Adams of Texas A&M, No. 6 Yannick Hanfmann of USC, No. 93 Henry Craig of Denver, No. 42 Alen Salibasic of Drake, and No. 105 Freddy Gelbrich of San Diego State). Posting a 3-1 mark against league opponents, Petronijevic is only the second player in USD history to receive the prestigious Player of the Year award (previous, Dean Jackson 2011).

NCAA Tennis: WCC Championships77th-ranked Vittek, who has played primarily at the No. 2 spot, is 5-1 in conference play and has moved up significantly in singles since his freshman year — previously receiving Honorable Mention selection recognition in 2014. With an overall record of 23-7, Vittek holds the team’s most singles victories, while most notably defeating 38th-ranked Ben Lott of Drake and No. 37 Quentin Monaghan of Notre Dame earlier this season. The Slovakia native received three West Coast Conference Player of the Week honors for singles, the most in conference this season. However, Vittek is no stranger to doubles success. The sophomore claims a spot on the All-WCC Doubles First Team for the second year in a row. Teamed up with Angus, the 45th-ranked pair have helped claim 18 of the Toreros’ 24 doubles points this season. The talented duo have only dropped one match against league opponents at 7-1 and have defeated squads such as No. 6 Sasha Gozun and Roberto Cid of South Florida and No. 56 Thomas Colautti and Zack McCourt of Princeton. The pair has been ranked as high as No. 28 by the ITA national rankings (September 8, 2014).

Transferring from one of the top Division I tennis programs in the country, Angus begins to wrap up his first-year as a Torero on a high note. All-WCC Singles Second Teams comes well earned as the Englishman posts the team-best conference record at 8-0. Playing primarily at the No. 3 spot, Angus boasts an overall record of 20-8, whiling winning eight of his last nine matches. Angus also received West Coast Conference Player of the Week previously this season (April 1, 2015).

Wrapping up the singles awards was Kalaydjian. Kalaydjian has undoubtedly been a significant asset to the Torero squad and is known for his down-to-the-wire clutch victories. The junior has won five singles matches in a row and posts a 6-1 record versus league opponents.

The Toreros, who received the top seed at the West Coast Conference Championships for the second year in a row, received a bye for the first round of the tournament beginning this week (April 22-25, 2015) at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif. The squad will prep for their first match in the quarterfinals scheduled for this Thursday, April 23rd, at 12:00 p.m. — PT.

For more information, go to www.usdtoreros.com

Julian: Changing Hats from Mechanical Engineer to Professor Soccer Player

Name: Julian Ringhof

Country: Germany

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Language(s): German, English


 

FullSizeRender“Hi Toreros! My name is Julian Ringhof and I was a student-athlete and international student at USD and graduated in Mechanical Engineering in December. But for now I left the engineering world behind. Growing up in Germany I started playing soccer when I was four years old. My entire family has always been very passionate about sports and becoming a professional athlete had always been a dream of mine. However, knowing that an athletic career doesn’t last forever and could come to a sudden end because of injuries I didn’t want to chase that dream at cost of a good education. So after going to university in Germany for one year while playing soccer semi-professionally I decided to transfer to a school in the United States to become a student-athlete. The college sports system in the US presented a great opportunity of keeping the dream of potentially becoming a pro athlete alive while receiving a great education on an athletic scholarship. A compromise the European college system doesn’t provide.

Unfortunately my path to USD was a little longer and more complicated than it could have been. My first two years I went to a state school in Los Angeles. Even though I had a great time at Cal State LA it became clear to me that for both a better soccer program and a better academic institution I needed to transfer. Transferring as a student-athlete however, is a rather complicated. I don’t want to go into details but it was quite the risk to ask for a release from my old school and potentially losing my entire athletic scholarship in order to reach out for other schools. Just coming back from an ankle surgery and not being able to train at the time made the process of finding an athletic scholarship at a better school even more complicated. Luckily Seamus McFadden, the head coach of the soccer program at USD, took the chance and offered me a transfer to USD to become a Torero. All it took for me was one visit to the beautiful USD campus and I knew this was where I wanted to go.

IMG_2503What followed were the best two and a half years of my life. I assume most of you don’t take the opportunity of studying at USD for granted but believe me being able to compare it to a regular state school made me appreciate it even more. The family-like atmosphere among students, professors, coaches and administration is what makes USD such a unique experience. The sense of community on campus is something that most European universities and many commuter schools in the US such as my first school do not have.  This sense of community is why I call USD home and why friendships with teammates and classmates at USD will last a lifetime. It’s only been a few months since I graduated but I already miss being a student-athlete at USD.

But as sad as it is that this chapter is over now the career opportunities that I have thanks to USD is more than I could have dreamed of when I first decided to come to the US. At a USD career fair my senior year I was offered a job by Solar Turbines, an international subsidiary of Caterpillar and arguably one of the best engineering companies in San Diego. And the job I was offered was exactly what I wanted my first job to be like: travel around the world for engineering projects.

However, I ended up not taking the job. This is because I was able to make my dream come true and become a professional soccer player. Two weeks ago I signed a contract with the Rochester Rhinos in New York to play pro soccer in the United States. Still understanding that an athletic career is limited to a few years the only reason I’m taking this chance of playing in the second tier of American soccer is because I have a degree in engineering from USD in my back pocket, the best career safety valve I could imagine. I’m sure sooner or later I will return to the engineering world.IMG_1731

So what can I say; I don’t think this journey of coming to the US and transferring to USD as a student-athlete could have turned out any better. Yes, it was a lot of hard work and being on the soccer team while earning a degree in engineering required a lot of sacrifice. But thanks to my friends, family, professors, coaches, the great support of the International Office and maybe some good German efficiency and time management the last two and half years were incredibly fulfilling and pure joy. Thank you USD and GO TOREROS!”

-Julian Ringhof

Marta: Juggling Sports, School, and Friends the Right Way

Name: Marta Stojanovic

Country: Serbia

Major(s): Behavioral Neuroscience

Language(s): Serbian, English, German, Italian, and a little Spanish


 

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Marta is photographed here (third from the left) with her teammates 

“Hi everyone! My name is Marta and I am from Serbia. I am a junior and I am majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience. I speak five languages which are Serbian, English, German, Italian and a little of Spanish. I am also a student-athlete and I received an athletic scholarship to play tennis for the University of San Diego. Serbia (well, Europe in general) does not have a system in which athletes can both play their sport and study at a university. You have to pick between the two. That is why I decided to come to a university in the United States where I am able to play tennis competitively and study in a great academic institution. I decided to come to University of San Diego because of the great tennis program, strong academics, and a beautiful weather. Not only I enjoy playing tennis and studying at USD, I get to send pictures of me tanning at the pool in February to my jealous friends that are freezing back home. I think I made a pretty good choice!

Being a student-athlete and an international student at USD definitely creates a unique experience. I had to face all the challenges of coming into a different culture and learning a new system, but also the challenges of being a student-athlete and managing sports and school.Even though it was and still difficult at times, I have learned so much and would not change this experience for anything. I have learned to manage my time and be more efficient. I have learned to utilize the resources that are plentiful here at USD. People here were very helpful, from the professors, athletic department to the members of the International Student Organization (ISO). 15082652488_2d7bc55ff7_z

The International Harbor Cruise 2014

Many international students are not used to asking for help but I think the available resources are one of the greatest advantages of USD. What I value the most from this experience are all the great people I have met. I have never thought that I will be in contact and become friends with so many people from different countries and cultures. At the beginning it took some time to adjust to the diversity of USD but I believe that has made me more aware of the differences and similarities between people. I was lucky to be on the tennis team which consists of mostly international student-athletes. We all go through a similar experience which connects us and enables us to help each other. They are like my family away from home. We plan trips over the summers, in the US and all over the world, and I believe that even in 10 years we will have reunions somewhere in the world and visit each other. I was fortunate enough to be part of athletic community and international community here at USD which made this experience unforgettable.

Living in the United States is very different from home. Not only the culture and people are different, but the system as well. Everyone here is very friendly. Not saying that people in Serbia are not friendly but just different kind of friendly. There were a lot of things that I needed to learn from scratch: from writing essays in English, to getting used to large portions of food (except in the SLP during dinner). It also took me a while to realize that I am supposed to hold the door for the person behind me even though they might not be that close. It took a lot of adjustment but I think this experience as an international student prepared me for many things in the future and I feel I could be thrown anywhere in the world and I would be able to survive. However, I believe that I am not the only one when I say that I miss a lot of things from home too: the food, the people, my favorite coffee place, my own room, but most of all my family and friends. It is harder for international students to travel back home as often because it is usually far away and more expensive. I get to see my family only once a year. It was the hardest at the beginning but as time passed it got easier, even the goodbyes at the airport. It probably makes it easier that I am usually very busy over the day and I do not have a lot of time to think about home. I spend my day going from classes to practice back to classes again. And then the rest of the day I usually try to catch up on homework and readings. I know, it is not that exciting. Over the weekends I try to do something fun for myself like going to the beach, watching a movie or hanging out with my friends.

My plan for the future is to go to graduate school for neuropsychology. I will probably apply to schools in the US and in Europe. I know where I want to end up but the path that will take me there is uncertain. I am excited to see what lies for me in the future.”

-Marta  Stojanovic

 

Taz: Making Big Waves in SD and Brazil

Name: Jose Tomaz de Alencar

Country: Brazil

Major: Communications with a minor in International Business

Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English, French


 

996885_318972594905494_1632919081_n (1)“My name is Jose Tomaz de Alencar and I am from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Coming from a family of five brothers, all of which have double-names (“nomes compostos”), each one of us has a nickname, mine being Taz. I picked up English at a very early age through private tutoring. Likewise, by traveling to Spanish-speaking countries and befriending Spanish-speaking people I learned a mixture of Portuguese and “Español”; I call it Portuñol. I was also fortunate enough to spend my high school years at the American School of Paris, where I picked up a little bit of French. When I came to college I was uncertain of what I wanted for my future. After many conversations with my family and peers I decided to pursue a path of entrepreneurship. My major at the University of San Diego is Communication Studies, with a minor in International Business.

12050_10151473194731636_226494511_nWhen applying for colleges I knew I wanted to study in California. My brother was studying in UC Santa Barbara at the time, and after a couple of visits I knew this was the place for me. I wanted the sunny weather and firing waves that I had experienced while visiting California. When I arrived, I was not surprised to see that was exactly what San Diego had in store for me. At first, I was solely focused on experiencing the luxurious lifestyle of a Californian. However, as I matured and grew intellectually, I noticed that all of the tools I need to succeed in this life are in the same environment in which I sunbathe and surf. Here, I am surrounded by innovative minds that constantly challenge one another–I have multiple entrepreneurial friends who have their own start-ups and have begun to see profit. Everyday I am enlightened by brilliant professors who challenge me in ways that I have never been pushed before. For the first time in my life, I have started to see what my future might look like. I was no longer worrying about the next party or the next wave, but rather my next steps toward pursuing a successful career.
1013108_10151477115471636_1353255079_n (1)I decided to take a semester abroad my Sophomore year to return to Brazil and be with my family. I went to the International Office to explore my options and was presented an opportunity to study abroad back home. This gave me the chance to attain credits while being with my family through some tough times. The staff helped make the transition smooth and stress-free. Coincidentally, USD’s corresponding PUCE University in Brazil happened to be the same university at which many of my friends were studying. I would be walking around campus and run into some surprised friends, often exclaiming, “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be back in California?” It was intriguing to experience how different university classes were and a student life lacking an actual “community campus.” Overall, I loved experiencing the university in Brazil. More importantly, I loved being there for my family when they needed me most. I sincerely thank USD for the opportunity to studying ‘abroad’ when I needed to, as well as the opportunity to studying abroad here and experience the amazing Californian life.”

 -Jose Tomaz De Alencar

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(Photos by Jose Tomaz De Alencar)

A Global Game

USD Women’s Tennis Program – A Melting Pot of International Talent

From USD Magazine – It’s hard not to notice how much fun Shani Blecher and Colomba DiFilippo are having on a sun-splashed afternoon at USD’s Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center. The uniform row of hardcourts adjacent to their position in the stands reverberates with the
metronomic beat of ball meeting racquet as their women’s tennis teammates hone their skills during an off-season practice session, but the two friends are busy talking story, and that’s clearly much more interesting than watching forehand volley drills.

The conversation is so very co-ed; classes, pending exams, trips to the beach and a planned outing downtown to sample a new restaurant are brought up in no particular order, and the constant giggling and ease with which they move from one talking point to the next suggests they’ve been pals since preschool. The fact that their respective hometowns of Shoham, Israel and Santiago, Chile are nearly 8,000 miles apart throws a giant monkey wrench in that theory, however — much to the delight of USD Women’s Tennis Head Coach Sherri Stephens.

“We really try to create a family environment with this team, especially when considering that a lot of our players are far, far away from home,” she says. “I think it’s critically important to make that transition as smooth as possible.”

With more than three decades of experience helming the Torero tennis program, Stephens has earned her share of frequent
flier miles searching the globe for talents like Blecher and DiFilippo. Along the way, she’s learned that coaching internationally born-and-raised players successfully requires a delicate balance of discipline and empathy.

“Most of them are experiencing major culture shock when they arrive, and it’s really important that they understand and embrace our team concept. But you also need to be aware that these are young women who more than likely have never been this far away from home, and occasionally just need a shoulder to cry on.”

Stephens relays a story about a player she recruited from Ireland who would write the number of days she had left before she could return home on her hand; rubbing off and updating the figure every 24 hours. “I was sure I was going to lose her when she went home for the holidays, but she came back and never looked back. She ended up becoming a leader on the team, and one of my best friends.”

The 2014-15 roster could easily be mistaken for a United Nations delegation, as five of the world’s seven continents are represented. That type of diversity is exactly what Stephens is looking for, on a variety of levels. “I love the idea that USD is a place where student athletes from all over the world can come and get an amazing education to complement their athletic experience. I think it’s what the university is all about.”

Pictured above from left to right are Head Coach Sherri Stephens, Mikayla Morkel-Brink, Marta Stojanovic, Colomba DiFilippo, Shani Blecher and Dana Oppinger.

By Mike Sauer