The University of Redlands mens tennis team is gearing up for another run at the regional playoffs. The No. 11 Bulldogs, coached by Geoffe Roche, are 15-3 with seven wins over nationally ranked opponents.
The Bulldogs have advanced to regional play for 16 straight years. They usually end up running into either UC Santa Cruz and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, who are top contenders again this season.
I like to think we have played good enough competition were going to be ready, Roche said. We return most of our team and they did too so it will be a battle.
The Bulldogs have been bolstered by the addition of sophomore Matt Liebman, a transfer from the University of Delaware who has moved into the No. 1 slot. That has strengthened the lineup by allowing senior Eric Wagar, who was No. 1 last year, to move down to No. 2.
Rounding out the top five are junior Aron Ouye, sophomore Mike Reading, junior Chris Trippel and sophomore Jeff Hammond. The doubles lineup consists of Wagar and senior Ransom Cook at No. 1, Reading and senior Zack Hasenyager at No. 2 and Hammond and freshman Keven Wong at No. 3.
I think its just a matter of everyone being a year older and more experienced, Roche said. Now they all know more about what theyre facing.
The three losses have all been to top 10 teams – No. 5 Middlebury (6-3), No. 9 Williams (5-4) and No. 10 University of Mary Washington (6-3).
No doubt the most dramatic match came last week as the Bulldogs upset No. 1 Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) 5-4, the pivotal match coming when Wagar won the last match of the day in a third-set tiebreaker.
The Bulldogs were up 2-1 after doubles but the Gusties won three of the five singles matches to tie it with Wagar still out on the court.
It doesnt get any more exciting than that, Roche said. It was a great match and a great atmosphere. And what makes it even more interesting is that he was in that same position last year and lost. So it was ironic.
Next up for the Bulldogs is a Wednesday home match against Concordia-Irvine, a quality NAIA program. The most notable matches will come on April 11 when the Banana Slugs come in and April 12, the last match of the season, when the defending SCIAC champion CMS team pays a visit.