Ambitious men’s tennis hits the courts for fall play

After reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last spring, the men’s tennis roster returns to the courts with high hopes for the fall and spring seasons. The team boasts five returning starters and three strong rookies – Dicken Chaplin ’12, Will Petrie ’12 and Kevin Shallcross ’12 – who are expected to make a solid impact immediately.

Veterans Rick Devlin ’09, Karol Furmaga ’09 and Bret Thacher ’09 will serve as this year’s tri-captains. Devlin and Furmaga are confident that the Ephs will maintain their traditionally deep level of play both this fall and in their official spring season.

“We have a deep team and a talented group of guys who need to work hard and get even better because NESCAC competition is very good,” Devlin said.

Men’s tennis intends to take advantage of the fall to get in shape on and off the court. During their fall matches, the men will look to improve upon their skills and gain some cohesive experience playing together as a new team.

“We’re taking the fall very seriously as opposed to in the past, because the amount of effort we put in is reflected in our spring play,” Furmaga said. “We are trying to improve our national rankings and put ourselves onto the national map. I think we have the potential to be very strong.”

According to Head Coach Dave Donn, one of the team’s main fall goals is to determine a singles lineup and possible doubles pairings, especially after losing two of their top players to graduation – Dan Greenberg ’08 and Gary Simonette ’08. Greenberg was named 2008 NESCAC Player of the Year, and both received All-NESCAC accolades.

“Losing Dan [Greenberg] and Gary [Simonette] has created openings towards the top of both our singles and doubles lineup,” Donn said. “We obviously will need players to step up if we are going to replace them. We certainly have the talent to do so if we work hard and remain focused on improving each and every day.”

Throughout the fall, Donn will have several opportunities to gauge where the Ephs stand in their conference which is becoming more upset-prone every year. Last year, Williams lost to both Trinity and Amherst – foes they had defeated convincingly in years past – while they were able to beat Middlebury for the first time since April of 2002.

“The freshmen have brought a lot of energy and excitement to an already highly motivated group of players,” Donn said. “I am looking forward to the competitive environment this will no doubt create for the team.”

Although the men traveled to play at Wesleyan yesterday, the results were not received in time to be included in this issue. The team is set to play Skidmore on Sept. 17. They will next travel to the three-day Middlebury Invitational beginning on Sept. 19 before hosting the ITA Tournament to be begin on Setp. 26.