The 2010 editions of the Spring Hill College men's and women's tennis teams face two very different challenges entering the new season. For the men's team, seven new faces mean that Coach Hans Laub must begin reshaping his team from scratch where as the women's team features seven returning players and looks to compete for the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title.
"The men will need to focus on consistent play," Laub says. "Our goal this year is to have a winning season and to lay the foundation for a strong future. If we play consistent tennis and focus on our doubles play, we should see an upswing in our play on the court."
Senior Nick Rayburn from Pineville, La., brings a history of more than 50 matches played as a Badger. Joining Rayburn among the veteran ranks will be three juniors, Chris Link from Louisville, Ky., Johnny Ngamvilay of St. Elmo, Ala., and Jason Price from Lillian, Ala. Link and Ngamvilay are both 2-year starters for Laub while Price saw numerous matches last season as a walk-on sophomore.
Laub looks for big things from his cast of newcomers on the men's team. Junior Mike Logan of Louisville returns to the team after sitting out the 2009 season and six talented freshmen look to make immediate impacts. Wil Amanor from Mobile's Murphy High School, Jonathan Ames from St. Paul's Episcopal School, Burke DeFraites of Lakeside Park, Ky., Jake Lyons from Jacksonville, Ala., Joshua Schultz of Niceville, Fla., and Peter Van Horn of The Woodlands, Texas, will each play a large role not just in this season, but as cornerstones for the future of the Badger men's tennis program.
Due to some bad luck, the SHC women's team suffered through a disappointing 4-5 season in 2009, but looks to bounce back strong in 2010. In each of the past three seasons the Spring Hill women have missed the NAIA National Tournament by a matter of points at the hands of their archrivals the University of Mobile. "Our ladies underachieved last year," he says. "This year we look to overcome that problem and expect to have a winning record and finally win that illusive wild card spot at the NAIA National Tournament held here in Mobile. Every day I stress that we must see stronger doubles play this year if we want to achieve these goals."
Experience is the watchword for 2010. Senior Allison Symulevich of Tampa, Fla., who looks to recover from a nagging shoulder injury, has played in more than 60 total matches as a Badger with the majority of those matches coming on either the Nos. 1 or 2 courts in both doubles and singles play. Four seasoned juniors also rejoin Symulevich this year as 2-time All-Conference player Lynne Fritscher of Covington, La., Gina Pambianchi of Cleveland, Miss., and Alex Tovar from Miami, Fla., will each look to added firepower to the Badgers' squad while Paige Malone of Louisville is ready to rebound from a tough showing in 2009.
Sophomore McCall Hedrick of Louisville will see increased playing time following a strong freshman campaign and sophomore Ruth Bourque of Houma, La., will be a valuable reserve player. Freshman Shelby Fritscher from Covington, younger sister of teammate Lynne Fritscher, should see immediate playing time while fellow freshmen Caroline Hitt from Baton Rouge, La., and Tara Montegut of League City, Texas, have both impressed Laub with their performances during the fall practices and scrimmages.
Spring Hill College tennis opens 2010 on Saturday with a men's and women's conference match versus defending GCAC Champions Xavier University (La.) beginning at 2 p.m. at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center.