Baldwin Wallace University Men’s Tennis Team Seeks OAC Title and an NCAA Playoff Berth
BEREA, OHIO — Baldwin Wallace University's men’s tennis team will seek to win the 2009 Ohio Athletic Conference championship and advance to its first-ever NCAA Division III National Tournament. BW wants to be the bride and is tired of being the bridesmaid!
A year ago, the Yellow Jackets finished 20-5 overall and placed second both during the OAC regular season and at the ‘08 OAC Tournament to narrowly miss an NCAA berth. BW has won 20 or more matches in five of the past six seasons and won 19 matches during the lone season it did not record 20 victories. Four of the past five years, BW has advanced to the OAC championship match. With its current group of players the past three seasons, BW is 60-11 overall.
Head Coach Brian Rector returns five lettermen on his 11-player roster who will compete for the six singles spots. He also is the winningest men’s tennis coach in BW and OAC history with a 326-70 career mark with three OAC Tournament and two regular season crowns to his credit.
Although Rector lost James Daly, the all-time winningest men’s player in BW and OAC history, to graduation, he will rely on senior four-year starter Jim Kucera (Mentor), juniors Andy Redd (Archbold) and Matt Lachman (Cleveland Heights/ Lakewood St. Edward) and sophomore Sam Burris (Wooster/ Senior) to be his key returning veterans. The quartet were all starters a year ago. In addition, senior Zach Long (Ashland/ Senior), who started in singles as both a freshman and sophomore, is back to compete with a talented group of freshmen and sophomores for a starting role.
Kucera, who owns 45 career singles wins, was the number one player this fall when BW played at the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) Central Region Tournament. He returns after posting a 15-10 mark last season at No.2 singles and was an honorable mention All-OAC pick. Redd is back for his third season as a starter after compiling a 16-10 mark at No.4 singles, including a 7-1 mark versus OAC opponents. He has earned honorable mention All-OAC accolades the past two seasons and has a 32-17 career slate.
Lachman is back after compiling a 19-5 overall mark at No.5 singles, including an 8-1 mark versus OAC opponents. Burris also had a solid first season in ‘08 with a 21-6 slate, including a 9-0 mark against OAC foes at No.6 singles. Long, who has a 40-9 career mark in singles, mostly played doubles last season. He had a 5-1 singles mark and teamed with Redd for a 13-6 mark at No.3 doubles. At the fall ITA tourney and joining Kucera in the lineup were Redd at No.4 and Burris at No.5.
In addition to the five returning experienced veterans, look for sophomores Bobby Irwin (Ashland/ Senior) and Justine Levine (Mentor) and the talented freshmen group of Alex Trzeciak(Avon Lake), Taylor Long (Ashland/ Senior), Andrew Orens (Brunswick) and Mike Mitoff (Lorain/ Admiral King) all to seek both playing time and to make a valuable contribution. At the fall ITA tourney, Trzeciak played at No.3 and Irwin at No.6.
“We have a solid group of young men who are competing hard every day we practice with the goal of helping BW win the OAC title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament,” said Rector. “We face another challenging schedule and look forward to the matches ahead.”
The BW men open winter play on February 14 versus Penn State Behrend (Pa.) in Berea and will open the 2009 OAC season on March 28 when it hosts Mount Union College at the “Pop” Collins Courts in Berea at 3:30 p.m. The team will travel to Hilton Head, South Carolina for its Annual Spring Break trip from March 7-14. The quest for the OAC title begins on April 28 when the OAC Tournament Quarterfinals begin.