Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 11:03
Oliver Porter / The Tufts Daily
After an up-and-down campaign last year, the arrival of the spring season for the men’s tennis team brings the opportunity for success against an ever-challenging NESCAC and to continue their growth from earlier this year.
In the fall, the Jumbos began their 2012-2013 campaign on a high note, tallying some strong wins in individual matches at Middlebury, Williams and Bates, and sweeping a tough Coast Guard squad 9-0 in the first dual match of the year. According to coach Jaime Kenney, strong performances in the fall established a definite sense of momentum for Tufts heading into the conference portion of the schedule.'
“More than anything, the fall really gave the guys an opportunity to see where they needed to be in the spring,” Kenney said. “It motivated them to work hard in the offseason, and over the last few weeks, I’ve been very impressed with their improvements. We’ll learn more during the season, but for now I really like what I’m seeing.”
To supplement a core of five returning seniors, Kenney brought in the Tennis Recruiting Network’s 8th best Div. III recruiting class in the nation this year. The incoming Jumbos already received useful match experience in a less competitive environment in the fall, but strong performances from all five freshmen will be critical to the success of the team going forward.
“Coming in, I felt lucky that I got to know the other freshmen really well and could adapt to the team dynamic quickly,” freshman Jay Glickman said. “The upperclassmen were very willing to accept the incoming recruiting class into the tennis family, and overall we’re psyched about our team this year.”
Led by senior tri-captains Andrew Lutz, Andrew McHugh and Mark Westerfield, the Jumbos did not take the break between seasons lightly. Even with six NESCAC teams among the NCAA’s official top 30 rankings, the Jumbos are motivated to perform at the highest level against any and all competition.
“As a team, we definitely worked hard both on and off the court this winter, focusing on our fitness, conditioning and endurance,” Glickman said. “We all tightened up on different aspects of our game and zeroed in on areas that could use improvement.”
As they look at that daunting NESCAC slate, there isn’t any one team they view as more important than the rest. According to Kenney, no matter the opponent, the goal for her players is to remember that improving every day will in itself lead to a successful season.
“This year, we’ve taken our talent up an entire level, and we’re committed to making Tufts a top team in the nation,” Kenney said. “I’m psyched to see how the team competes, but at the end of the day, we need to make sure we know how to get better. That will get us where we need to be.”
The Jumbos will begin their season over spring break with two non-conference away matches against Brandeis and Chapman on March 16 and 19, after which they will head out to California to take on some of the nation’s best at Occidental and the Claremont Colleges, including NESCAC rival Amherst early next week.
When asked about her team’s chances to take home a NESCAC title, Kenney maintained that anything is possible with her up-and-coming group.
“I think that if the guys continue to work hard and they’re able to keep focus on the team, we’ll definitely have the opportunities,” Kenney said. “I’m incredibly impressed by this team, from the senior leadership to the maturity of the freshmen coming in.”
In addition to a normal conference schedule set for the month of April, Tufts will host a Div. I Big East school for the first time in program history, with Villanova coming to Medford on April 5.
“I’m thrilled that we get to play against all levels of competition, and I think that it will definitely help us establish ourselves as a contender in our conference this year,” Glickman said. “We have a lot of depth and we’re excited to go out there and compete.”