COURTESY OF LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY
Saint Louis graduate Mike Wojnarowicz, above, and Michael Chan of Kealakehe had a friendly rivalry while in high school.
Wojnarowicz and Chan are leaving their mark at Loyola Marymount
LOS ANGELES » Two separate paths with a shared destination.
For Loyola Marymount senior tennis standouts Mike Wojnarowicz (Saint Louis '02) and Michael Chan (Kealakehe '02), the convergence has been memorable.
Wojnarowicz became LMU's all-time career wins leader in singles last month at Hawaii-Hilo. His 6-3, 6-0 victory over the Vulcans' Daniel Pollock gave Wojnarowicz 69, breaking Beau Berglund's year-old school mark of 68.
Wojnarowicz (69-54 singles) also has a shot at the doubles record, needing nine to pass Leo Graeubig's 2003 mark. He takes a 55-51 doubles record into Saturday's home match against UC San Diego.
Over the past four years, he has been at either the No. 1 or No. 2 singles and doubles positions, playing an integral role in leading the once unknown Lions onto the national radar screen
"We are going to miss Mike a lot," said LMU coach Nik DeVore. "He is a phenomenal talent and a real team leader. He's had an unbelievable career, will shatter this (singles) record while competing against the top players from around the country. It's an incredible accomplishment."
It's been done with a confident humility.
"I've worked really hard to be the best I can be," Wojnarowicz said. "I never tried to set a record like that, but it feels good that all my hard work paid off."
While Wojnarowicz's career has been defined by setting records, Chan's tale is one of perseverance. Wrist and shoulder injuries severely limited his playing time over most of his career, making it hard for him to ever develop a rhythm on the court.
According to Chan, the training room had become more of a home than the tennis court.
"It was tough to always have to rehab all these injures during my prime years," Chan said. "It's hard to always have to come back."
Chan, now completely healthy for the first time, has seen action in every match this season. He is 2-4 in both singles and doubles this season, 17-26 and 11-19 respectively career-wise.
"It's been a tough road for Chan," DeVore said. "Everyone knows he's super talented. If he would have had more match experience, he would have been one of our top players. He's getting more match experience now and by the time we begin conference play, he will be a tough competitor and hopefully finish his career strong."
The highlight of this season for both was coming home to Hawaii and winning. Against Hawaii-Hilo on Jan. 26, Wojnarowicz won at No. 1 -- which gave him the LMU record -- and Chan at No. 4.
Besides being teammates the last four years, Wojnarowicz and Chan have a friendly rivalry that dates back to high school. During their senior year, they were the top two players in the state, making for an interesting situation when they decided to be college roommates.
"It was always fun to play against Mike growing up," Chan said. "Now that we are on the same team, it's even better. At first it was weird to play with him after always playing against him, but living together made it a lot easier."
"It's been a great experience living together," Wojnarowicz said. "We get along and never have any problems. People ask why we still live together after four years, but why change something that's good?"
Something else that they both agree on is the outstanding opportunity that Loyola Marymount has provided them.
"Athletically and academically, it has been a great experience to come to LMU," Wojnarowicz said. "To get a top education and be a part of a special team has been terrific ... I could not have hoped for anything better."
The feeling is mutual, according to Loyola Marymount athletic director William Husak. And it's not limited to his two tennis players from the islands.
"We enjoy a great relationship with Hawaii student-athletes at LMU," Husak said. "The Hawaii connection has been a key ingredient to our entire program's success."
Wojnarowicz, on the honor roll last year, graduates in May with a degree in sociology. Chan, the men's tennis representative on LMU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, is also an honor student and will graduate with a Business Marketing degree.
Two paths and one destination.
They were born 11 days apart in October 1984 on opposite sides world, Wojnarowicz in Poland, Chan in California. Both ended up in Hawaii before choosing LMU.
"They've both come a long way in their own ways," said DeVore. "They came in as little boys and now they leave as men. Both are still free spirits and they will always be the same laid-back, fun-loving guys.
"I am proud of them both. Our team has adopted their personality and we will miss what they have given us as tennis players, but even more as people."