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2017-18 Men’s Tennis: Season Preview

2017-18 Men’s Tennis: Season Preview
     With a program-best 3rd place finish in the final SCAC standings and a first-time year-end regional ranking in Division III Men's Tennis, the West #17 Kangaroo Men's Tennis Team put Austin College on the collegiate tennis map in 2016-17.  
     Their 14-6 (6-3 SCAC record) was the best in Head Coach Ryan Dodd's career at the helm, but an ultra-competitive 17-18 schedule will prove to be difficult if the task is improving on the record from one year ago.  Asked to take on this task is a core group of four familiar student-athletes from last year's lineup, several key returners that found meaningful playing time early in their careers, and five first-year participants hungry for the chance to play collegiate tennis.
     Senior co-Captain Erik Meendsen and Senior Daniel Oxenreiter are the last remaining members from the days of a Kangaroo squad that compiled a 5-13 record in 2014-15.
     Meendsen has 56 career singles and doubles victories for the 'Roos, and twice has been named SCAC Honorable Mention.  Oxenreiter boasts 23 combined victories and an SCAC All-Tournament Team designation at Line 2 Doubles in 2015.  These two key members will use their veteran experience and plethora of SCAC accolades, the Kangaroos are in good hands from a leadership and competitive standpoint.
     Junior co-Captain Kenneth Hardy and Junior Josh Granberry have three SCAC All-Conference nominations between them, and two year's experience playing at the top of the singles & doubles lineups for the 'Roos.
     Hardy (1st Team All-SCAC '17) teamed up with his 16-17 doubles partner, Sophomore Siddharth Kortikere in this year's Fall ITA Doubles Tournament to the tune of a program best semi-final finish.  Granberry (2 time SCAC Honorable Mention) used his experience last season as the team's Line 1 singles player to advance to the consolation quarterfinals in singles for the first time in his career.  If the Kangaroos hope to have any success this year, they will heavily rely on these two returners to carry the torch into battle.
     Sophomores Travis Fortune & Safe Rahman look to be key members in the difficult task of replacing graduated Senior Preston Glasscock in the doubles and singles rotations.  The two young 'Roos had great Fall Tournaments with Fortune teaming with Freshman Andres Padilla (Houston, TX – Clear Brook) for a B-Draw Doubles Final berth, while Rahman became the first Austin College singles champion in Division III program history.
     Padilla is one of five incoming Freshman to don the Crimson & Gold, eager for a chance to prove their mettle in competition.  Calum Robe (Grapevine, TX – Grapevine ISD) has shown throughout high school and juniors he can win big matches for his team, winning a deciding 3rd set in his senior year to send Grapevine to the Regional finals in their run to State, and finishing 3rd in 5A Singles Regionals in Spring 2017.  After winning his first round in the ITA Singles tournament this fall, Robe is well on his way to an illustrious and successful career at AC.
     Preston Spivey (Weatherford, TX – Weatherford ISD) was a regional qualifier in 6A singles for his high school before committing to the Kangaroos.  He and Rahman teamed up in B-Doubles en route to a quarterfinal appearance this fall.  Bryan Walmsley (Pasadena, TX – Deer Park ISD) has been pushing his teammates in practice and will get an early opportunity this spring for competitive experience, and Dunham Bock (Dallas, TX – Parish Episcopal) was a 5A TAPPS State Qualifier his senior year.
     In total, these 12 student-athletes know that the season ahead of them will be challenging.  The Spring Break trip to Portland, OR is just one trip on the schedule that serves as an indication of this year's competitive potential.  But their team chemistry, veteran experience, and youthful vigor will prove to be the most honest representation of where this program is in its competitive timeline.  While a 3rd-place finish was a major accomplishment in the past, the Kangaroo Men's Tennis Team knows that big things are ahead of them if the recipe for success remains the same with a few added ingredients.