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Anteaters want more

Irvine Scene

UC Irvine men's tennis team captured this year's Big West title, but Kronemann wants team to earn success in NCAAs.

May 07, 2011|By Joe Haakenson, Daily Pilot
(Courtesy of UC Irvine )

UC Irvine is the 2011 Big West Conference champion in men's tennis.

Has a nice ring to it.

But that's not the ring the UC Irvine men's tennis coach Trevor Kronemann longs for.

The Anteaters are piling on success after success these days. They won the conference tournament last year, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. They won regular-season conference co-championships in 2008 and 2009.

This year's team has the conference player of the year in Chris Kearney and the co-freshman of the year in Ryan Cheung. Kronemann was named conference coach of the year for the second season in a row.

But it's not enough.

"I want somebody to win a national championship at UCI," Kronemann said. "Whether that's a team championship or individual championship."

Kronemann has UCI on the right track, and they'll begin their quest for a national team championship next week when the Anteaters start play in the 64-team NCAA Tournament. But Kronemann also knows national championships don't come quick and easy. They take perseverance and patience.

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"As a coach, I want it now, I want it yesterday," he said. "But how you get there is by being one step better than the year before. Even if it's small steps, you try to make sure you make that one step every year. And maybe some years you take four or five steps.

"You do that, you'll eventually get there."

UCI might have a tough road ahead this year, but don't tell Kronemann. The Anteaters are 40th in the ITA national rankings, but Kronemann isn't buying it.

"I think we're a little bit better than that," He said. "We pushed UCLA to 4-3, and they're ranked 11th. Rankings don't matter to me. Our schedule speaks for itself. We were as high as 32 or 33, then we had one bad loss and fell to 63. Now we worked our way back up to 40. I believe we're better than 40."

UCI will get the chance to validate its coach as soon as Friday, when the NCAA Tournament begins at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus, one of the 16 regionals being played around the country.

The Anteaters will play No. 28 Mississippi, and if they win, they likely will face No. 11 UCLA. Kronemann has done his homework on Ole Miss.

"Their team is all foreign players," he said. "They have two guys who are 6-foot-5. When they win the doubles point, they're 11-1, but when they lose the doubles point, they're 0-8.

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