Tennis season to begin with dual coaches

Kathleen Weiser, Contributing Reporter

The collegiate tennis season kicks off this weekend with both Spartan teams nationally ranked previously, with an addition of a promising crop of incoming freshmen. The tennis teams will compete in separate matches over the coming weeks before the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships on the weekends of September 20th and 27th. Both teams are looking to improve their national rankings this season with a brand new tennis facility on campus and a re-structuring of the coaching staff to provide more individual support.

For the first time in the history of the program, both the men’s and women’s team will have separate coaches. Last year, Case Western Reserve University was one of only two schools to earn national ranking with both teams with only one head coach. This led to a number of conflicts with the scheduling of tournaments and regional championships. The head coach, Todd Wojtkowski knew that the school needed to provide more support to each player to get to the next level. Based on Wojtkowski’s recommendation along with a spectacular showing from both teams last year, the administration decided to promote assistant coach Kristen Gambrell to head coach of the women’s team. This, along with brand new facility, has really helped raise the level of excitement within the program. “Now that we have a home and home matches everyone’s really excited,” Wojtkowski said.

Last year the women’s team obtained their first-ever national ranking, ending the year at 25th nationally with a ranked singles player, sophomore Sara Zargham. This year the team is composed of 15 players; four freshmen, eight sophomores and three juniors. The four freshmen were determined to be the 23rd highest rated recruiting class in the nation by the Tennis Recruiting Network. With a new emphasis on this program and a dedicated head coach, the women’s team looks to improve on last year’s highest ranking of 22nd. The women will travel to Oberlin College this weekend to open their season before their ITA Regional competition on the 21st and 22nd.

The men’s team comes into the new year ranked as the 13th best program nationally and a returning ITA All-American in Sophomore Christopher Krimbill. The team lost many senior players to last year’s graduating class, but looks to stay successful with an exciting new freshman class which was rated as the 14th highest nationally by the Tennis Recruiting Network. The squad includes 21 players with seven freshmen, six sophomores, two juniors and five seniors. Wojkowski has noticed an increase in talent with the new team and a new level of focus and determination. “Last year, the leadership on the team was more social, but this year the team is more hard-working. They don’t mind giving up Friday and Saturday nights for practice,” he said.

The team will need to work hard to surpass last year’s success.The men’s squad will open their season at the Kenyon Invitational and the Purdue invitational before moving on to their regional competition on the weekend of September 27th.

Both the men and the women will be focused on individual performance leading up to the ITA Regional championship, which leads to the small college national championship in the Fall. The team will then focus on the NCAA championships early next year. For the first time, CWRU will be hosting the national indoor championships in their new facility.