By Meredith Cook
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2009-2010 Holy Cross men's tennis team returns seven players from a season ago (4-14, 0-3 Patriot League) and welcomes five newcomers. History was made last year, when junior No. 1 singles player Matt Wierzel became the first Holy Cross men's tennis player to ever earn All-Patriot League team honors as he was named to the second team.
Wierzel enters his junior year having played every match during his Holy Cross career at No. 1 singles. His nine singles victories last season led the team. "Matt is one of the most talented players I've helped coach," said head coach Evan Gaudreau. "He has incredible potential to continue his already dominant play."
Joining Wierzel on the 2009-2010 men's tennis team are three seniors and three sophomores. The senior class consists of John Burke, Dan Phelan and Tom Steinert. Burke played most of last year at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, finishing with a 2-18 overall singles record. Phelan played as the No. 3 and No. 4 singles player, going 4-15 overall. Steinert went 2-4 overall at No. 6 singles. Coach Gaudreau believes that all three players "will continue to have a strong impact on the team. They are both very good athletes and will be a great asset to us in singles play."
Also looking to continue where he left off is sophomore Chris Das, who was a starter as a freshman last year. He went 7-12 overall at singles (7-11 dual-match play and 0-1 tournament play) and went 3-12 overall at doubles (2-10 dual-match play and 1-2 tournament play). His seven singles victories ranked second on the team and his 7-11 dual-match record was also the second best on the team. "Chris has a great amount of potential," said Gaudreau. "He's made some major improvements and will make a name for himself this season."
Rounding out the returners are sophomores Dan Sheehan and Ajeya Shekar. Combined they went 3-5 in singles play last year, adding great value to the team.
This season also holds a lot of potential for first year head coach Gaudreau. Gaudreau, who was an assistant with the team last year, sees the team as a great learning ground for current and potential players. "I am looking to take the experience of our older players and provide a foundation for the younger players," said Gaudreau." "I want to be able to use the team as an incredible building block for anyone looking to play tennis for this program. Not only do I want to improve our current athletes and turn them into more versatile players, but I want them to be able to teach their successors what it means to be a great tennis player and embody the team as a whole."
As for general improvements, Gaudreau looks forward to bettering the team's overall record in match play. The fall schedule, similar to that of last year, is a way for Gaudreau to make key improvements against opponents he has already seen. Particularly, Gaudreau sees the match between Hartford and Holy Cross as a bit of a rivalry and looks to continue the winning tradition that the team established last year.
The team will jump right into the season on Sept. 12 when they take on Coast Guard in a dual-match at Coast guard. Six other matches complete the schedule. On Sept. 20 the team will travel to Siena and then continue on the road at Hartford on Sept. 22. The men will continue competition at the Connecticut Invitational, hosted by Connecticut on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 in Storrs, Conn.
The schedule carries into October as the team plays on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 at the Stonehill Invitational in Easton, Mass. Completing the fall season is a final home match against Merrimack on Oct. 10.