January 18, 2013

2013 Tennis Season Preview

The Citadel tennis team begins its 2013 journey under the helm of second-year coach Kemper Baker, and with an array of new talent to supplement the eight returning players the netters are setting their sights on simply progressing with some hard work and perseverance.

"Our goals are very simple," said Baker.  "They start with improving and trying to become better individually and collectively as a unit.  Our guys have worked extremely hard since I've been here, and our strength and conditioning staff has done incredible things with them.  Our fitness is in a really good place right now, as well as our team morale and work ethic.

"I am impressed with how our guys have handled success and failure in their events and how they are willing to come back every Monday to strengthen their game and improve their conditioning."

The team welcomes four new players.  Matthew McGill of Atlanta, Ga., is coming off a fruitful fall season where he marked a 3-3 singles record competing at the UTC Steve Baras Fall Classic and at The Citadel Fall Invitational.  McGill was ranked the 15th-best recruit in Georgia according to tennisrecruiting.net.

Local resident Jackson Pride is also coming off a solid fall season and is expected to continue his success from high school (Baylor School in Chattanooga).  Pride, whose hometown is Charleston, was listed as the fifth-best recruit in South Carolina according to tennisrecruiting.net.

Another newcomer is Oliver Dedding from Campinas, Brazil, who competed in three tournaments during the fall and is expected to add depth, as well as J.C. Pauli of Las Vegas, Nev., who transferred from Vincennes University where he recorded a 6-2 singles and 8-1 double record last year.

"We have a great group of new players who complement our returning players," added Baker.  "These guys have continued to grow and get stronger as a group and have become huge impact members of the team."

The Bulldogs are returning eight lettermen including John Armstrong, James Atkinson, Dillon Berkabile, Peter Bleach, Alex Howle, David Orces, Elliott Sperr and Justin Wycoff.  Orces, Sperr and Wycoff have been named co-captains for the season.

"We have an interesting group in leadership positions this season," added Baker.  "Each has specific strengths and brings a unique form of direction.

"Orces is a quiet leader and leads by example.  He is the ultimate competitor and trains as hard as anyone I've worked with.

"Sperr is a much more vocal leader and is very well liked and respected by the whole team.  He is a great organizational manager and can delegate responsibilities.

"Wycoff is the heart and soul of our team. He is the spirit, fight, optimism and everything we would want in a cadet-student athlete."

Undoubtedly coming off his best season, senior Orces was tabbed first team all-conference by the Southern Conference head coaches and logged a 13-6 singles dual record while going 6-4 in the SoCon.  The Guayaquil, Ecuador, native has already laid a solid foundation for the 2013 season with remarkable performances in the fall that included a 18-5 singles record while earning finals appearances in the Division II singles draw at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships and the USTA Clay Court Invitational at Disney.  Orces also won the singles draw championship at the USC Upstate Fall Classic.

The Bulldogs will start their new voyage for success in their first dual match of the season on Feb. 1 at 2 p.m., against Coastal Georgia at the Coastal Georgia Tennis Complex. The season is highlighted by eight home matches, including a five-match home stand at the Earle Tennis Center beginning March 8, and a very competitive conference schedule that commences March 2 with UNC Greensboro on the road.

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