Last year was a historic season for the Hillsdale College men’s tennis team, and it left them wanting more. For the first time in program history, the men’s tennis team qualified for the NCAA Tournament, but had to forfeit two matches due to COVID-19 and fell to the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds 4 – 0.
The NCAA tournament was truly an amazing experience,” sophomore Brennan Cimpeanu said. “It was especially enjoyable that it was our first time since our program reboot that we have made the national tournament.”
After the Tournament, the Chargers were ranked 30th in the Nation in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II poll. Junior Tyler Conrad and Cimpeanu ranked 16th and 17th respectively in singles for the Midwest Region.
Conrad, who jumped from No. 5 singles in 2020 to No. 1 singles last year, said the experience will help him get better this season.
“Last year was difficult having to learn how to play a high position, but now I know how to win against that level of player, and I plan on utilizing that experience to ground myself and stay confident,” Conrad said. “My personal goals for this upcoming season are to win more matches than last year and really be a nearly guaranteed point for our team”
Head coach Keith Turner said he wants to build on last year’s success.
“Our goals are to win the GMAC, make it to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tourney, and finish in the top 25 in the nation,” Turner said.
Sophomore Daniel Gilbert said intensity is a big focus this year.
“This season we have to keep up the intensity in practice and in matches,” Gilbert said. “We can’t get too comfortable especially since we have a target on our back now.”
Gilbert said he has two personal goals this season.
“My personal goals are to firstly solidify my spot in the lineup and secondly improve my record from last season,” Gilbert said. “Especially if I play lower I feel like there is no reason why I can’t go undefeated in regional play against players of similar lineup spots.”
Conrad said that the NCAA Tournament set his sights on his goals next year.
“It was a beautiful low-pressure culmination of our team’s successes last year, and playing the tournament gave us a glimpse at what we’re playing for this year: making it to the sweet 16 in Arizona,” Conrad said.
The team only graduated one senior, No. 6 singles and No. 2 doubles Gabe Katz.
“His work at the #2 doubles spot last year was a huge key to us having such a successful year,” Turner said. “We still have a pretty young team this year but I feel we have enough leaders on the team to fill the void of losing Gabe.”
Turner also said he expects big things from the two freshmen this year, Jonathan Degtyaryov and Noah Fascewski.
“Degtyaryov is a guy who could have gone to a number of Division I schools,” Turner said. “He’ll be a huge addition to our singles and doubles lineup. Fascewski is also a strong player who will have the chance to be in the singles and doubles lineup.”
The Chargers play two tournaments in the fall: The Charger Men’s Tennis Invite this weekend and the ITA Midwest Regional Sept. 24 – 26.
“The two tournaments this fall are huge for our development,” Turner said. “It gives me a chance to see how the freshmen look and what we need to work on overall as a team. The competition will be very high this fall so it will be great to see how we compete against some strong teams that we won’t see in the spring until maybe the NCAA Tournament.”