The 2013 edition of the Spring Hill College men's and women's tennis teams welcome first-year head coach Eric Sajowitz to the helm and he is greeted with two experienced squads. His women's program returns seven of nine players from a team that qualified for the 2012 NAIA Women's National Championship Tournament for the first time since 2004 and his men's team features seven returning players including five seniors.
"This year our experience will be a difference-maker," says Sajowitz. "Our seniors have been motivating our underclassmen by working hard on and off the courts. I have faith that our seniors are committed to finishing their careers strong."
For the Badger ladies, seniors Shelby Fritscher of Covington, La., and Tara Montegut of League City, Texas, will be back on the No. 1 doubles court where they earned a 10-3 record last season. Fritscher will also return to the No. 1 singles court after an 8-4 season in 2012 while Montegut will be back on the No. 2 schedule.
Sophomore Elise Michaelis of Covington looks to returns the No. 2 doubles court and the No. 4 singles court while senior Caroline Hitt should return to the No. 2 doubles and No. 3 singles courts after sitting out her junior year due to injury. Juniors Monica Castello of Mobile, Ala., and Maggie Leeds from Birmingham, Ala., went 7-3 on the No. 3 doubles courts last season and will be together again in 2013. At singles play, Castello will look to be back on the No. 5 court with Leeds returning to the No. 6 court. Sophomore Megan Gietl of Montgomery, Ala., will see valuable time on the lower courts as she is needed.
"Our goals for both teams this year are to having winning records," Sajowitz said. "And our women look to return to the NAIA National Championship Tournament for a second consecutive season."
For the men, senior Burke DeFraites of Lakeside Park, Ky. will return to the No. 1 singles and doubles courts where he will be joined by sophomore Meyer Schwartzberg of Lake Charles, La., who moves up from the No. 2 doubles court. Schwartzberg was 6-4 on the No. 6 singles court in his freshman year and looks to move up to the No. 4 court this season.
Senior Josh Schultz of Niceville, Fla., will partner with junior Jacob Neu on the No. 2 doubles court with Neu returning to the No. 2 singles slate and Schultz back at the No. 3 court on the line-up card. Seniors Jake Lyons of Jacksonville, Ala., and Will Amanor from Mobile will move into the Nos. 5 and 6 courts respectively as singles and No. 3 as a doubles team. Senior Jonathan Ames of Mobile will see time in both singles and doubles play as Sajowitz works out his line-up.
Three newcomers join the Badger roster this year as junior John Paul Espinosa of Managua, Nicaragua, has earned a walk-on spot and freshmen Sebastian Arias of Dorado, Puerto Rico, and Lee Leavitt from Daphne, Ala., will gain valuable experience as the season progresses.
"This will be a turning point year for Spring Hill Tennis," says Sajowitz. "Our players are ready to make their mark and I'm excited to see our team upward bound. The teams have put in the work and now it's time to see the results."
Spring Hill will open the men's and women's tennis seasons at home with conference matches versus the Loyola University (La.) Wolf Pack at the Copeland-Cox (Mobile) Tennis Center on Friday beginning at 3:30 p.m.