MEDFORD, Mass. – The No. 13 Tufts University men's tennis program is on a positive trajectory.
|Ben Battle will serve as a senior captain this spring for the Jumbos.|
The Jumbos rattled off back-to-back .500 campaigns during the 2013-14 (9-9) and 2014-15 seasons (8-8), and then broke through last spring with an impressive 13-7 mark.
The 2016-17 Jumbos' roster will be a combination of veterans and rookies under head coach Karl Gregor. The squad returns 11 players from last year's roster, while adding six first-year collegiate players to the mix.
"I expect our team to be able to compete and beat top-10 teams in the country," Gregor said. "We will play at least five in our regular season, as we did last year, and I think our level is as good or better. The one wild card may be experience level of the team, but the team knows the season is a process. I think we can gain experience as we go and peak by the end of April before the conference tournament and NCAA Championship."
The Jumbos will open up the 2017 spring portion of their schedule on Saturday at Point Loma (11 a.m.) in San Diego. After finishing six matches over .500 last season, the Jumbos have high expectations for this spring. The team will be led by a trio of senior captains in Ben Battle, Austin Bendetson and Kevin Kelly.
"As a team, we have discussed a few goals that we would like to accomplish over the 2017 spring season," junior Rohan Gupte said. "One of our biggest goals is to improve upon our national ranking of No. 13 from last year. Over the past few years, our team has consistently improved in the rankings and we aim to continue that trend this year, which will hopefully lead us to the NCAA Division III Championships."
Gupte was one of the Jumbos' top-performers from last spring, as he boasted a 9-4 record in singles and a 6-8 record in doubles action. Kelly posted an undefeated 10-0 mark, as he went 7-0 on the singles side and 3-0 in doubles action.
The team will rely heavily on junior Zain Ali, as the he posted a 9-7 record in singles and a 7-7 mark in doubles competition. Junior Danny Coran showcased his skills in singles-oriented matches, going 10-4, which complemented his 2-1 performance in doubles. Junior Griffin Brockman compiled a 5-7 mark in doubles.
Other noteworthy returners include junior Justin Brogan, sophomore Ethan Chen, junior Jack Friend and sophomore Ross Kamin, Battle and Bendetson. Ethan Bershtein, Benjamin Biswas, William Gold, Nathan Niemiec, Jason Scanlon and Zach Shaff round out the roster, as the six freshmen on the squad will be looking to make an immediate impact.
The Jumbos ended their 2016 spring season in style, upsetting No. 4 Bowdoin, 5-4, on May 1 in Medford, Massachusetts. The squad then leaped into the first round of the NESCAC Conference tournament as the fifth seed and competed admirable against fourth-seeded Wesleyan, but the Cardinals were able to prevail, 5-3.
One of the fundamental values that the men's tennis program always preaches at Tufts is team chemistry, and this year will be no different.
"As for a non-result based goal, one of our main core values is to compete hard and have fun," Gupte said. "Our team is filled with fierce competitors and we pride ourselves on giving our all on the court. We believe that if we are able to accomplish this, the results will follow."
The Jumbos will open their season with six matches out on the road during March, and then will take on NESCAC-rival and No. 15 Amherst on April 1 (noon) at home in Medford, Massachusetts. Eight of the Jumbos' 10 events in April will be conference matches.
The NESCAC Championships are scheduled for May 5-7 at Williams in Williamstown, Massachusetts. If the Jumbos do qualify for the national tournament, the NCAA Regional Tournament is slated to take place on May 12-14.
"Our team is thrilled to have a chance to compete again this season," Gupte said. "Unlike the fall season, where we mostly play individual tournaments, in the spring we get a chance to go head to head against some of the best teams in the nation. Our team cherishes the opportunity to compete at such a high level and there is no better way than to start our season in sunny California."
Written by Trevor Wenners, Athletic Communications Intern