With most spring sports getting into full action this weekend, gopetrels.com will take the next few days to preview the upcoming seasons ahead. Here's a look at the 2012 men's tennis squad.
2012 Men's Tennis Season Preview
For two consecutive seasons the men's tennis program has enjoyed reaching new heights as head coach Peter Howell has guided the squad to consecutive 4th place finishes in the tennis-elite Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. This year, the Petrels will be rebuilding with a bevy of new faces after losing the team's top four players to graduation. Here's a look at the 2012 roster and the upcoming season ahead on the tennis courts.
After thriving with veteran leadership in recent years, the 2012 roster will be one of coach Howell's youngest, featuring five freshmen, five sophomores and no upperclassmen. Among the five sophomores, only Ethan Motz (Norcross, Ga.) has played more than ten matches as a starter in singles competition. A hard-hitter, Motz compiled a 16-5 record in 2012 playing from the No. 3 position and he will likely be asked to step up into the team's No. 1 slot. Classmate Rajiv Dinakaran (Elon, N.C.) improved greatly last year and with a year's experience looks to fill the middle of the lineup. Sophomores Jeremiah Farmer (Norcross, Ga.) and Cedric Andre (Paris, France) will be counted on to provide depth to the re-shuffled lineup while sophomore walk-on Chris Noonburg (Richmond Hill, Ga.) made great strides during the fall to show promise for the spring.
Heading up the group of five freshmen is Kirk Zhao (Marietta, Ga.), a talented player who proved in fall workouts that he has the moxie to challenge for the top spot in the lineup. Zhao is joined by Benjamin Hirsch (Duluth, Ga.), a fast, two-handed hitter that will give opponents fits with his unorthodox style. Freshman Craig Borne (Canton, Ga.) has shown great potential and could own a place in the lineup while classmate Joshua Rosenberg (Lake Villa, Ill.) is coming off of shoulder surgery, but will be counted on to contribute.
As is always the case in the rugged SCAC, the Petrels have a daunting 2012 schedule, opening with nationally ranked #2 Emory. Oglethorpe will also face two nationally ranked teams and five regionally ranked squads, to go along with six conference tilts. To view the entire 2012 men's tennis schedule, go here.
"We will be hard pressed to come close to last years 17-5 record, but with hard work, dedication, and no injuries, we can have our ninth consecutive winning record in 2012," said head coach Peter Howell. "I'm looking forward to the challenges this year brings."