Coming off of its first-ever appearance in the NESCAC tournament, the men’s tennis team looks to build off of last season’s success and move one step closer to a title. The team lost a close 5-3 decision to fourth-seeded Bates in the opening round.
“We obviously want a continuation from last year’s success,” Coach Mike Fried said. “Hopefully that excitement and intensity can carry over into this year.”
In Fried’s first season as head coach last year, the team finished with a 7-10 record overall but went 5-4 against NESCAC opponents. The team’s high point was its five-match winning streak, beating Trinity, Hamilton, Tufts, Conn College, and Colby. For his team’s success, Fried was honored with the NESCAC co-Coach of the Year award.
“A lot of our success is due to Fried,” said Captain Stephen Monk ’15. “We’ve got a great work ethic from him—he pushes us to work hard, physically and mentally. We see nutritionists and sports psychologists to keep up this mental toughness.”
Monk will continue his position as the first singles player this year, where he found minimal success last season, going 3-8 in his 11 matches in the top spot. His co-captain, Sam Rudovsky ’16, will also play an even bigger role this season after finishing 8-3 last year in the third singles role.
The team remains a relatively young one, returning three sophomores and five juniors while introducing four freshmen. However, the team will have to continue without three graduating seniors, including starter Jeff Legunn ’13, who was 11-6 on the season last year.
“It’s definitely going to be tough losing Jeff,” Monk said. “He was a great player and a great leader. But Coach Fried has recruited an unbelievable freshman class. They are all super talented.”
Jacob Roberts, Gregory Lyon, Michael Liu, and Cameron Hicks are the team’s newest members, and Coach Fried was effusive about the prospect of them taking the court as Cardinals.
“We’ve got four really good incoming freshmen,” said Fried. “Our recruiting class was ranked seventh in the nation [in Division III]. I’m very excited to see them play.”
The team will have to remain competitive if it wishes to be successful this season. Four teams in its conference are ranked in the top 12 in DIII. However, Coach Fried is still confident they will remain efficacious this coming season.
“This year, we need to be mentally tough and play to our potential,” said Fried. “If we focus on the process and work hard, results will follow. We want to be as competitive as possible. A little bit of experience will definitely help us take the next step this year. I’m excited about our team’s energy and enthusiasm to complete our shared goals. We built this culture of camaraderie and community, and the team really bought into it.”
Monk echoed his head coach’s goals about the upcoming season.
“Our goal is to get back to the NESCAC [tournament], do some damage in that, and hopefully make it to the NCAA tournament,” Monk said. “We’ve got a young team, but we can do it. We know it’s our time to step up.”