Aiming for Aces

Josh Horton, Reporter

The  men’s tennis team will no longer be giving away points before matches even start.

“It’s huge for us,” tennis coach of both the men’s and women’s teams Justin Muthler said. “Numbers were a big problem for us in the past, but this year we have a ton of guys and I am really happy with our roster.”

The men’s team return five players who all had ample time on the court in addition to a wealth of incoming first year players and upperclassmen newcomers.

Muthler takes over the team, replacing Allison Joanlanne as the head coach of both the men’s and women’s tennis teams. Muthler is no stranger to the program.  He graduated from  in 2011 and immediately joined the coaching staff for the 2012 season.

Muthler brings experience to the squad and has been an important part of the program since he started as a freshman in 2008. He had solid careers in both singles and doubles and looks to use his knowledge of the game to make the program a contender.

While it may take the men a bit longer to reach contender status, the number increase is enough to excite everyone. Senior Sal Saraniti is pleases with the expanded expansion and said he’s especially encouraged that the team will not have to forfeit any matches.

“Last year was tough,” Saraniti said. “We would be on our way to a match and already knew we had to forfeit the number six spot. This year we had a huge turnout and although it’s a lot of people’s first years, the fact that they are here is enough to pump me up.”

he said the goal is to improve with each match.

“Everyone is here because they want to be,” Saraniti said. “We have a full team, now we just have to improve with each practice and so far we have.”

The women’s team returns all of its key players from a year ago and Muthler believes they will be a force in the conference this season. The women nearly won the MAC Conference last season, but dropped the Freedom Conference Championship match to Wilkes University.

The women dropped the championship match 5-0 and finished the season with a record of 11-5. The Cougars return All-Freedom players Michelle Cameron and Breanne Phillips, as well as Emily Boro and Cassie Foy. Muthler expects the Cougars to be in the Freedom Conference title game this season as well.

“Honestly, we should be the favorites in the conference,” Muthler said. “We return all of our girls from a year ago and I think anything less than winning the conference would be a disappointment.”

Muthler’s goals line up with the team’s goals. Phillips believes this year’s women’s team will be a real problem between the lines for opponents.

“I’m so excited for this year,” Phillips said. “We have everybody back and we had a pretty good season last year. This year we want to win the conference championships and we definitely have the team to do it.”

The lone bad news thus far for the Cougars is Fred Hockenbury has graduated. The Dallas native was First Team All-Freedom just one season ago and was named the team MVP in 2011 and 2012.

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