The Grinnell College men’s tennis team will be looking for another highly-successful campaign in 2010.
The squad’s top returnee is Juan Carlos Perez ’11 (pictured), who qualified for the NCAA Division III National Tournament last year in singles play.
Other top returnees are Sam Raife ’10, Dmitriy Glumov ’12, Eric Ritter ’12, Martin Dluhos ’12 and Michael Cole ’12. Other key contributors will be team captain Alec Moore ’11, Ben Flebbe ’11, Daniel Nellis ’13, Ishan Bhadkamkar’13 and Colin Johnson ’13.
Coach Andy Hamilton said the biggest challenge will be replacing NCAA doubles qualifiers and All-Americans Dan LaFountaine ’09 and Nate Fox ’09.
“When you look at us on paper, we know there are big holes to fill after losing All-Americans Dan and Nate,” said Grinnell Hamilton. “What people don’t realize is we have many players returning who have experience in our lineup. The big question is who will move into fill the roles vacated by Dan and Nate and how well our doubles realign.”
The Pioneers open the 2010 campaign Saturday at the University of Dubuque with duals against both the host school and Carroll University. The team’s current singles order is Perez, Glumov, Dluhos, Bhadkamkar, Raife, Ritter and either Nellis or Cole. Doubles are currently the duos of Perez-Glumov, Dluhos-Bhadkamkar, Raife-Johnson and Cole-Nellis.
The Pioneers will be seeking their seventh Midwest Conference title in a row in 2010.
“Our immediate goal is to get comfortable on the court through experience, and the overall goal is to retain our Midwest Conference title,” said Hamilton. “We know with the loss of two great seniors, people will be gunning for us. This team also wants to see if we can move back into the top 15 in the region.”
Hamilton said Saturday’s season-opening action will be a challenge. “Carroll is a program on the rise,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re focused and ready. Dubuque has everybody back and a new No. 1. Their lineup is deeper, and it was a talented lineup before they got their new No. 1.”