HC men’s tennis ready to swing into action
By biconews On 29 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Jay Koransky

The gradual melting of snow and rising of temperatures can only mean one thing: it’s time once again for some exciting action brought to you by the Haverford College men’s tennis team.

This season is shaping up to be a strong one for the Fords, as head coach Sean Sloane guides an experienced line-up led by co-captains Matt Bernhard ’00 and Brian Simms ’01 into the fray of the always competitive Centennial Conference. With the loss of only two players - Matt Benedict ’99 and Ross Fetterolf ’99 - from last year’s team, Sloane has built a solid nucleus of young talent to challenge for conference supremacy.

“If everything breaks right for us and we don’t have any injuries and we click as a team,” says Sloane, “then we can make a serious challenge in the league.”

Injuries may indeed present this year’s squad with its biggest challenge, as sophomore Peter Law (knee) and Simms (shoulder) has already sustained minor knocks. These are setbacks the Fords simply cannot afford when going up against the likes of Franklin and Marshall, Johns Hopkins, and perennial conference powerhouse Washington (Md.), which has won the league every year since its inception in 1994. As coach Sloane puts it, “The only problem is we don’t have a lot of depth.”

Bernhard, though, likes the Fords’ chances if all goes according to plan.

“If we pull ourselves together,” he says, “we can give Washington a good challenge. The difference is that they were a little more match-ready last year.”

In an attempt to get his troops to that same level of readiness, Sloane arranged a trip to the Bahamas over spring break for the team to compete against the Bahaman Davis Cup team. “I think this is something we’re all pretty excited about,” says Sloane regarding the trip.

As a senior, Bernhard would like nothing better than to go out on top and sees this opportunity as a chance for the team to improve even more.

“I’m pretty excited about our chances, although it’s a little frustrating for me going out when things are just getting good again.” Junior co-captain Simms agrees: “I feel like I got in at a good time, because each year we’ve gotten significantly better.”

Both players attribute much of their success to Sloane.

“He teaches us patience, how to look at the game and extract how to win by getting you to approach the game from a different angle that you’re not always comfortable with,” says Bernhard. Simms concurs: “He’s taught me when to attack and when to defend, and certain instances where different strategies are required.”

The season gets underway on Wednesday, March 1 away against UPenn. Haverford plays eight Centennial Conference matches out of a total of 15, eight of which are home. At stake is one of the eight places in the newly expanded Regional Tournament, which Sloane feels is “definitely within reach.” With any luck, this year’s Fords may well prove him right.

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