The Stetson men’s tennis team begins its fall competition this weekend, traveling to Athens, Georgia to play in the Southern Intercollegiate Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
After a great beginning to the 2012 season – including the program’s best start since 1996 (10-0) and earning a national ranking twice – the young Stetson squad finished the year 15-4 overall and bowed out of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in the quarterfinals.
With nearly everyone returning in 2013, that young squad has grown up and is ready to compete at higher level this season.
“The growth of our young squad was evident throughout last season,” Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote said. “They were all excellent players last year but now with the experience of at least one season of Division I tennis, they have a different stride to their step. From the first practice this fall, we have seen the difference.”
“Having nearly the whole team coming back allowed us to jump into practice at full speed,” Associate Head Coach Christophe Noblet said. “Everyone was aware of the routines and expectations, which has made things easier.”
With three A-Sun All-Freshman Team honorees returning to the squad, including First Team A-Sun and Freshman of the Year Simon Julin, the Hatters are looking to continue to develop this improving group of student-athletes.
“The advantage of our small roster is that everyone has the chance to travel and compete this fall,” Noblet said of the seven-man team. “Thus, we hope the players will embrace this opportunity to play a number of competitive matches and build confidence.”
The one familiar name missing from the 2013 roster is Didrik Berg, who finished his senior season as a Second Team All-Conference performer last spring. The hole left by his play on the court and his leadership off of it won’t be easy to fill, but the Hatters are prepared.
“It will be difficult to replace Didrik’s leadership, but [senior] Hans Adrian Riseng will be up to the task,” Pilote said. “He was aware last year that he would be replacing a great captain and close friend as this year’s captain, and I have no doubts that he will do a great job. I will also look for Chester Espie and Nathan Debut to learn from Hans Adrian so that they are ready to step into his shoes. This is the Stetson way!”
After the event this weekend, Stetson will continue fall play at the Bedford Cup (Sept. 26-29), the Wake Forest Invitational (Oct. 11-13), and the ITF Future USA-F30 (Oct. 25-27).