CMS Men's Tennis Picked Second in Preseason Division III Poll
CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's tennis team was picked to finish second in the nation in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason Division III poll, the organization announced today.
In addition, CMS was chosen as the preseason favorite to win the SCIAC in a preseason poll of the league's coaches.
The Stags are coming off a season in which they finished second in the NCAA Division III Championships, falling in the finals to Emory, which was picked first in the preseason poll. The Eagles had three of their top six players in the NCAA Championship match graduate after the title, including No. 1 Jonathan Jemison, while the Stags return five of their top six, losing only No. 3 Julian Gordy from last year's singles lineup.
CMS boasts as strong of a 1-2 punch as there is in the country in senior Nikolai Parodi and junior Jack Katzman, who play at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the singles lineup, respectively. Parodi and Katzman have finished every season ranked in the top five in the nation in singles since joining the program, and both advanced to the ITA Cup national semifinals in the fall (after facing each other in the ITA West Regional finals).
The Stags closed the year last fall with junior Robert Liu, senior Daniel Park and first-year Nic Meister playing in the 4-6 spots, and each of them could move up a spot on the ladder. Incoming first-year Ian Freer had a top-50 ranking in the nation coming out of high school and got off to a strong start to his collegiate career in the fall, reaching the ITA West semifinals before falling to Katzman in three sets, and he figures to have strong potential to crack the CMS lineup.
There are plenty of other players on the roster who could step into a starting singles spot as well. Junior Casey Morris saw a lot action at the No. 6 spot in the CMS lineup a year ago and has a lot of big match experience to build on. Senior Matthew Jacobs came up big to provide the clinching win in a 5-4 victory over MIT last spring, while sophomore Ethan Carroll began his career last year by defeating the top seed in the ITA West Regionals. First-years Michael Hao and Ian Habbestad will also look to crack a crowded CMS lineup in his first season with the program.
Parodi and Freer played at the top doubles position for CMS in the fall and could hold down that role this year, while Katzman and Liu were doubles partners all of last year and figure to stay together this season. Senior Jake Williams has been a strong doubles player for CMS and will look to hold down one of the top three positions. Senior Jake Berber could also find his way into the CMS doubles lineup, as could Habbestad, who showed promise playing doubles with Williams in the fall.
The Stags get their season underway this week with three matches in Hawaii, taking on Pacific (Ore.), Trinity (Texas) and Hawaii Pacific. After playing the Ducey Cup Alumni March on Jan. 25, the Stags will have their first home events on Saturday, Feb. 8, taking on Hope International and Ottawa (Ariz.).