2011 Hall of Fame Inductee: 2006 Men's Tennis Team
Oct. 6, 2011
MALIBU, Calif. -- The Pepperdine University Department of Athletics' 2011 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is coming up this Sunday, October 9, at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, Calif.
From now until the event, PepperdineSports.com will be running profiles on each of the inductees. Today is the 2006 men's tennis team's turn:
When Adam Steinberg was hired prior to the 2002-03 season, he said that he could turn Pepperdine into a national championship program. It took just four seasons for Steinberg's words to come true. The 2006 men's tennis team had a brilliant campaign, going 36-2 overall and setting an NCAA record for most victories by a championship-winning squad.
The dream season began when the Waves, who were ranked #9 in the preseason, knocked off top-ranked Virginia at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center in the first match of the year. That would be one of five victories that Pepperdine would record against top-10 ranked teams during the regular season, with others coming against UCLA, Mississippi, Duke and Baylor.
The Waves won their first 13 matches of the season, and their only two regular-season losses came against then-#2 Georgia (in the final of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships) and then-#3 Texas (in a road match). But those defeats would later be avenged at the biggest stage of them all.
Pepperdine rolled to its 16th consecutive West Coast Conference championship and then entered the NCAA Championships ranked #2 in the nation. After disposing of Montana State and Texas Christian in the first two rounds held in Malibu, the Waves headed up to Stanford for the finals. There, they knocked out #16 Florida in the round of 16 and #10 UCLA in the quarterfinals.
Though the Waves had been beaten at Texas a little more than one month earlier, this time around Pepperdine came away with a 4-1 victory in the semifinals. That set up the NCAA championship against #1 Georgia, which hadn't lost a match all season.
Pepperdine won the doubles point, then took a commanding 3-0 lead with singles victories by Omar Altmann at #6 and Ivor Lovrak at #3. Though Georgia won the next two singles matches, the Waves needed to win just one of the remaining two matches to claim the championship. Andre Begemann came through at #4 singles with a 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory to clinch the title and set off the celebration.
It was Pepperdine's first NCAA title in men's tennis, and the school's second national title in the sport (the Waves won the 1952 NAIA championship).
Lovrak was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Performer, while he, Altmann, Begemann and Pedro Rico were picked to the All-Tournament Team in singles. All three of Pepperdine's doubles teams would also be honored.
Additionally, the team of Begemann and Scott Doerner would end up reaching the championship match of the NCAA Doubles Tournament. Both would earn All-American honors. Doerner had previously been named the WCC Player of the Year for the second time.
Steinberg would receive ITA National Coach of the Year honors, and Per Nilsson (now the head coach at Mississippi State) was the ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year. The volunteer assistant coach on the 2006 team, Nick Carless, would return a year later to replace Nilsson as assistant coach.