Monday, April 22, 2013

Player with prosthetic arm inspirational in Gaels' loss

Thomas Hunt of Saint Mary's serves against Tom Miller
of Sacramento State on Sunday. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO -- Marek Marksoo, the top player for the Sacramento State men, returned from a one-month injury layoff to give the Hornets a dramatic 4-3 victory over Saint Mary's on Sunday.
   But that was only part of the story, as a poignant, inspirational scene unfolded at the far end of the Rio del Oro Racquet Club.
   Thomas Hunt of Saint Mary's performed amazingly well in a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Tom Miller at No. 6 singles. Hunt, a 6-foot-2 freshman from New Zealand, has a prosthetic left arm.
   He tossed the ball in the same place with his left arm every time on his serve and held his racket with his artificial hand while picking up balls. He slugged forehands and backhands with his strong right arm and showed good volleying form on occasional forays to the net. 
Hunt prepares to return serve.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Hunt, who dropped to 8-11 at No. 6 singles, was born without half of his left arm. It ends just above where the elbow should be, and his parents fitted him for a prosthetic arm months after his birth.
   Saint Mary's, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, bolted to a 3-1 lead against Sac State in the regular-season finale for both teams.
   The victory by Miller, a sophomore from England, pulled the Hornets within 3-2, and Sean Kolar tied it with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2) win at No. 4 singles.
   Marksoo, a sophomore from Estonia returning from a sprained ankle, then outlasted Jesse Kiuru, a senior from Finland, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 to lift Sac State. Marksoo is ranked No. 117 and Kiuru No. 116. 
   Sac State (15-12) will be seeded first in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, scheduled for Friday through Sunday at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area.
   Saint Mary's (9-14) will compete in the West Coast Conference Championships, which begin Wednesday in San Diego.
OTHER COLLEGE RESULTS
(Last day of regular season)
Men
   No. 60 Santa Clara def. Portland 5-2 in Santa Clara. No. 1 singles: No. 75 John Lamble (SC) def. Ratan Gill 6-0, 1-6, 7-5. Team records: Santa Clara 16-9 overall, 4-4 West Coast Conference; Portland 10-10, 2-5.
   No. 71 Pacific def. UC Riverside 4-3 in Riverside. No. 1 singles: Jimmy Roberts (UCR) def. Sem Verbeek 6-4, 6-4. Team records: Pacific 14-8 overall, 4-2 Big West Conference; UC Riverside 3-20, 0-5.
   UC Irvine def. UC Davis 4-3 in Irvine. No. 1 singles: Ryan Cheung (UCI) def. Toki Sherbakov 6-3, 6-4. Team records: UC Irvine 9-16 overall, 5-1 Big West; UC Davis 8-12, 1-5.
Women
   No. 70 Oregon def. No. 58 Santa Clara in Santa Clara. No. 1 singles: Nicole Long (O) def. No. 28 Katie Le 6-1, 7-5. Team records: Oregon 13-10, Santa Clara 9-9.

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