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February 14, 2013

2013 Preview: Redlands Men's Tennis Enhances Program's History with Ardent Approach to Upcoming Season

Equipped with elevated skills and a rededicated sense of commitment, the University of Redlands men's tennis team embarks upon the 2013 season as a viable threat for the top of the highly-competitive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) and beyond.  Ranked No. 16 in the Intercollegiate  Tennis Association (ITA) Division III Preseason Poll, the Bulldogs strive to not only justify that honor but build upon it while facing an impressive slate of opponents throughout the campaign.

"The history and tradition of the program inspire us to be our best and do all we can as a team to make our alumni proud," commented Head Coach Geoff Roche, who enters his 14th year at the helm of the program that owns 15 national titles and 56 conference championships. 

The season begins with a heavy list of NAIA contenders, including No. 3 Vanguard University.  From an NCAA Division III perspective, the Bulldogs also take on 13 of the nation's top-30 programs, highlighted by third-ranked Williams College (MA) on March 23 and No. 6 Bowdoin College (ME) on March 20. 

"We strive to play the best in order to be the best," stated Roche. 

Furthermore, the SCIAC alone features five ranked programs, with two of them among the top 10.

"The conference competition is outstanding!  Every match is highly contested and makes for quality competition throughout conference play," Roche added.

In addition to the challenges and rewards of the schedule, the Bulldogs hold high expectations for player as they enter the campaign with a rededicated sense of purpose.

"Overall, everyone has made a higher level of commitment to each other for the benefit of the team," added Roche.  "We're really ready to excel on behalf of each other."

The Bulldogs count on a trio of seniors to set the tone for success, with four-year contributor Anish Nanda (Cerritos, CA) leading the way as the most experienced competitor in the group.  He solidifies both line-ups while serving as an exemplary member of the team, complete with athletic and academic accomplishments.

"We can always count on him," Roche simply stated.

After overcoming injury in 2012, senior Connor Hyde (Peterborough, NH) strives to improve upon his All-SCIAC form of his sophomore year.  Hungry and focused, Hyde enters his final year with the ability to significantly impact both line-ups, as his big game deems well for doubles and singles.

Senior John Brewer's (Portland, OR) undeniable development and continuous commitment look to pay off in the upcoming season, as he contends for consistent opportunities in both line-ups for the first time in his career with the Bulldogs.  Count on him to put his greatest tennis skills to work, creating lucrative outcomes for the Maroon and Gray.

Redlands also holds high expectations for a talented and deep crew of sophomores.  Following last year's inaugural experience, these second-year players excitedly approach the season with the ability and desire to continue leaving their mark on the program.

Sophomores Patrick Lipscomb (Irvine, CA) and Nick Cummins (Rancho Mirage, CA) headline this group as the team's top returnees from a year ago.  Lipscomb secured an impressive record in singles, highlighted by a 12-match win streak, to go along with All-SCIAC First-Team honors.  He works to best utilize his tools while also capitalizing on his improved doubles repertoire that resulted in an NCAA All-America nod in 2012.  Cummins, a Second-Team All-SCIAC selection last season, expects to elevate his game to the next level due to an overall improved versatility that is complemented by a greater arsenal of shots.

In addition, the team welcomes back sophomore Taylor Hunt (Seattle, WA) with a renewed sense of dedication and determination to contribute.  Prepared to take on a bigger role in 2013, he enters the campaign with the desire and skills necessary to greatly impact both line-ups.

Sophomore Teddy Jones (St. Louis, MO) also works to build off of last year's experience, which included a 12-6 showing with Cummins at the No. 2 slot in doubles.  Jones offers more weapons that balance his big serve and ability to move forward, setting the stage for an exciting season.

After gaining matches in the doubles line-up, sophomore Gram Leahy (Portland, OR) sits poised and ready to also make an impact in singles.  In addition, this solid, all-around player brings an inspired level of dedication, which bodes well for those around him.

Finally, Redlands returns sophomores Max Licona (Culver City, CA) and Aaron Marvin (San Diego, CA) as positive influences among the squad.  While possessing the tools to compete for a starting spot, Licona continues to raise his game through tennis maturity and hard work.  Marvin's quiet yet competitive demeanor comes to life with his big serve and ability to move forward, allowing this Jim Verdeick Coach's Award recipient to stun his opponents with his unassuming attack.

Beyond the dedicated and capable returnees, the Bulldogs anticipate the contributions of a small yet mighty class of rookies. 

Freshman Jacob Lousche (Bakersfield, CA) joins the program with an aggressive, backcourt style that includes a strong and heavy ball.  Look for his own high expectations to push him into the line-up, particularly in singles.

Freshmen Collin Black (Davidson, NV) and Nick Pizzuti (Menlo Park, CA) also look forward to an exciting first season with the Maroon and Gray.  Hungry to be part of the program, Black eagerly contributes in any way possible while developing his game to the collegiate setting.  Pizzuti brings a good command and feel of the fundamentals of doubles, which helps to elevate the overall level of the squad's doubles game.

Beyond the playing personnel, the Bulldogs rely on a pair of assistant coaches to serve as an extension of Roche, both on and off the court.  Following a four-year career at Redlands, Zack Hasenyager moves into the role of assistant coach, bringing that personal knowledge of the team experience while also offering a solid eye for the game.  He joins long-time assistant coach, Erik Lundblad, who continues to serve as a reliable and dedicated staple of Bulldog men's tennis.

With the pieces of the puzzle in place, Redlands looks forward to impressing throughout the 2013 campaign, with big wins, impressive rankings, and national success within reach.  The program's illustrious history serves as a great foundation for the intense dedication of the players to inspire a season of excellence.