Tennis teams serve out fall season

The Stevenson University men’s and women’s tennis teams wrapped up their fall season with a record-breaking win at the Middle Atlantic Conference individual championship on Oct. 13-14 for the men’s championships and Oct. 19-21 for the women’s championship at Kings College.

Freshman Larry Johnson prepares to hit a backhand during the MAC individual singles championship match against DeSales University at King’s College on Oct. 14. (Photo from Middle Atlantic Conference Flickr)

The Mustangs compete in one of two conferences in the country that participate in an individual tournament during the Fall, where there are 11 events. The men’s team made it to the finals in five of the events. Senior Peter Appiah Jr. and freshman Lukas Sandias tallied wins in the No. 4 doubles championship.

The pair had an 8-5 victory over Wilkes University, who previously held the title for winning all draws on the men’s side for the past three years until the upset by Stevenson.

Three other players, including junior Andre Sturniolo, senior Douglas Vaughan, and freshman Larry Johnson advanced to the finals. The Mustangs fell short in their singles matches, and Sturniolo and Vaughn lost a heart-breaking fight in the No. 2 doubles final against Wilkes, 8-7.

While the men’s team had great results in the fall tournament, head coach Evan Clifton is excited for the progression into spring for both the men’s and women’s teams. Clifton said he is eager to see what freshman Jacquelyn Nesbeth, and sophomores Megan Waskiewicz and Esha Kashmiri will bring to the court this year. Clifton said even though NCAA rules prohibit the coaches from being involved in the off-season training before their spring season, Clifton is confident in the work the players will put in to prepare for the spring season.

Junior Nina Bretz gets in position to hit a forehand in a match during the MAC individual singles championships at King’s College on Oct. 20. (Photo from Middle Atlantic Conference Flickr)

“This team loves nothing more than tennis and competing,” said Clifton. He also knows that drive will guide their individual development and team-building for the spring.

Sophomore Taelor Brown said that the chance to grow and come back stronger as a team is what she is looking forward to the most this March. Both players and coaches said the fall season is a learning lesson above anything else, so they know what to develop and improve for their spring season.

Clifton said he believes the maturity of the team and dedication to their program will lead them to success in the spring. He also noted that the team’s mental and physical toughness is better than ever. Clifton said they are a strong and fit team due to the impact of Tony Pedrotti and MC McFadden, the strength and conditioning coaches at Stevenson. The Mustangs plan to use this as an advantage to help them pull off those long, tight matches in the future.

The Mustangs have continually been in the mix the past few years as possible winners of the MAC conference, and Clifton said that this is the year “we get it done.” The men’s team will focus on winning their conference this spring in hopes of advancing to the NCAA tournament.

The Mustangs will resume play in their spring debut on Saturday, March 30 when the Mustangs play at Lebanon Valley College.

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