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The Glenvar junior worked his way to the No. 1 spot, but failed to reach the Group A finals.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
Glenvar’s Igor Ponjavic fell to George Mason’s Tommy Weber in a 6-4, 6-4 match Thursday in the Group A state semifinals.
Friday, June 7, 2013
BLACKSBURG — Igor Ponjavic put together a solid junior year for the Glenvar boys tennis team, climbing from third on the singles depth chart to winning the Region C title and reaching the Group A state semifinals.
Ponjavic’s run at a state title ended in Thursday’s semis at the hands of George Mason’s Tommy Weber in a 6-4, 6-4 match. Still that’s quite a move in just one season.
“As a junior, he wasn’t even our number one to start the season,” Glenvar coach Mark Rohrback said. “He had to battle through two really good players [Alex Dunkenberger and Colton Walls] to climb to the top of the ladder over the seniors that are my No. 1 doubles team.”
Ponjavic, whose parents are from Croatia, was born in Hamburg, Germany, and he later moved to the Roanoke Valley. He picked up tennis in his freshman year after watching his older brother, Sandi, play for the Highlanders. Igor played in the No. 6 spot in his freshman year before moving to third in his sophomore year and taking the top spot this season.
Due to heavy rains, the match was moved from Radford University’s outdoor tennis courts to the indoor courts of Virginia Tech’s Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center. The change of venues affected Ponjavic’s normal pre-match routine.
“Having to go up to Radford and back, I didn’t get to warm up with my coach,” Ponjavic said. “It’s a little different, I like to warm up and work on my serve a lot more. [Rohrback] can tell me what I’m doing wrong.”
Ponjavic led in both sets, taking a 4-2 advantage in the first set and a 2-1 edge in the second set, but the Region B champion Weber bounced back both times.
“He’s a good player, he’s great,” Ponjavic said of Weber. “He can hit those corners with power.”
Despite the setback, Ponjavic hopes to use it as motivation for next year’s campaign.
“It just shows how much more you have to work to get the state ring,” Ponjavic said. “They’re going to be even better next year.”
“I’m proud of the work that [Igor] put in in the offseason. He’s committed to the sport and he loves it, you can see that when he plays,” Rohrback said.
Glenvar’s doubles team of Dunkenberger and Walls were going through graduation practice on Thursday morning when they found out their semifinals match with Gate City’s John Ferguson and Luke Funkhouser — originally scheduled for 3 p.m. today — was moved to 3 p.m. Thursday.
Ferguson and Funkhouser downed Dunkenberger and Walls 6-0, 6-1 to advance to Saturday’s state final.
“They were a good team,” Dunkenberger said. “We could have played better. … They were a good team and they deserved to win, but I would have liked to see us play a little better.”
Ferguson also won the singles title, beating Weber 7-5, 6-0 in the final. The Gate City player reached the final by downing Nathan Salle of Appomattox Regional Governor’s School 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals.
All three Highlanders still have more tennis ahead. Glenvar plays Windsor at 8:30 this morning at the Sun Tennis Center on Starkey Road in Roanoke in the Group A team semifinals. Finals are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Radford University.
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