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Freshman Ricky Hernandez-Tong (left) and sophomore Jorge Escutia walk of the court after finishing a doubles match April 17, 2016 at the McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium. 

Freshman Ricky Hernandez-Tong (left) and sophomore Jorge Escutia walk of the court after finishing a doubles match April 17, 2016 at the McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium. 

Men's Tennis: UNM season comes to a close

Head coach Bart Scott steps down

Shortly after the New Mexico men’s tennis season officially concluded, the team’s head coach announced it will also be the end of his coaching tenure.

New Mexico’s Bart Van Leijsen and Hayden Sabatka started their quest for a national championship at the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The pair came up just short against their opening round opponents, East Tennessee State’s David Biosca and Rogerio Ribeiro, falling in two very competitive sets.

The doubles pairs played about as even as possible, but a late break and hold in both sets allowed ETSU to advance. Biosca and Ribeiro defeated Van Leijsen and Sabatka, 6-4, 6-4.

Head coach Bart Scott said wind can be the ultimate equalizer, and the windy conditions may have neutralized some of their strengths.

But he said ETSU deserves all the credit for making better serves, better returns and using the wind to their advantage, successfully executing several lob shots.

“They (ETSU) had a great run,” Scott said. “They made it all the way to the semis and beat the number seed.”

Biosca and Ribeiro made a run all the way to the semifinals before getting bounced by Texas A&M in a third set tiebreaker. Ultimately, UCLA’s Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki emerged as national champions, defeating Texas A&M, 6-4, 6-1 on May 30.

A few days after the tournament ended, a release announced Scott will be stepping down to “moving into private sector.”

Scott said that he still wants to coach the Lobos, but the opportunity was too good to pass up, and ultimately the best decision for him and his family.

Although this was just his second season at the helm, Scott has been coaching the Lobos for eight seasons and has a rich history with the school.

Scott played tennis for New Mexico and helped bring the school’s first Mountain West title in 2000 by securing the clinching point as a freshman.

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He won three championships as a player before leading the team to a regular season title as a coach in 2014-2015, when he was also named Mountain West coach of the Year.

Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs announced that a national search will be conducted to find its next head coach, according to a UNM release.

The team and the local community have seemed to respond well to having former Lobo players as its head coaches. Alan Dils, Scott’s predecessor, enjoyed 18 highly successful seasons as head coach before stepping down.

Current assistant coaches Ben Dunbar and Johnny Parkes are also former Lobo tennis players.

Since the team had no seniors on the roster, it will return all players and add a pair of highly touted recruits that could make an immediate impact.

“Before this opportunity for me to move on came about, I was really looking for to next year,” Scott said. “The next coach is really coming into to a good situation. We’ve got a great facility, a really good team nucleus and a strong backbone to the program.”

The team endured a tumultuous season and the experience and growth is likely to serve the team in the future. Scott said there’s a lot to look forward to and he’s going to be a huge fan and supporter of the team. He said he can’t wait to see the team compete again.

Van Leijsen and Sabatka have competed in nationals on multiple occasions, Ricky Hernandez-Tong finished 15-2 to end his freshman season, and Augustus Ge should be fully rehabilitated from a season-ending foot injury.

In addition, Rodolfo Jauregui and Jorge Escutia should bring additional leadership and stability to the program, while local prodigy’s Sean Baklini and Michael Tran round out a solid lineup after fighting their way into the lineup to gain valuable experience.

Whoever the next head coach ends up being, he seems to have some big shoes to fill. However, with a talented group of student athletes and the strong foundation Scott will leave behind, the team should be poised for another run in the post-season.

Robert Maler is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers cross country, tennis, and track and field. He can be reached at or on Twitter @robert_maler.


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