PHILADELPHIA The men's tennis team is set to start its 2008-09 season this weekend with a pair of tournaments. The Quakers will have a squad travelling to Flushing Meadow and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the USTA Intercollegiate, and a group staying in Philadelphia for the annual Big 5 Tournament held at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Center.
The Quakers bring back a strong nucleus of seven returning players and have added three newcomers to the team. One of the newcomers, junior transfer Hicham Laalej, is currently ranked No. 105 in the ITA rankings.
Head coach Nik DeVore sees his team as one on the rise.
“Going into the last weekend of the 2007-08 season, we had a chance at first place, but it wasn’t meant to be,” he said. “We look to challenge for the title this year. We return seven quality players and have added a strong recruiting class. We are looking forward to new challenges and opportunities.”
Senior captain Jonathan Boym battled injuries throughout the 2007-08 campaign and looks to rebound and return to the first-team All-Ivy level of play he brought to the court in 2006-07.
Behind Boym, there are a number of players looking to slide into the starting lineup. Included in the list of returning players in the hunt for playing time are juniors Jeffrey Karsh, Justen Roth, Adam Schwartz and Alex Vasin as well as sophomores Dmitry Bury and Zach Gorn.
Joining Laalej as newcomers to DeVore’s team are freshmen Phil Law and Jason Lin. Law, a native of Calgary, Alberta, has been a consistent finalist in Canadian national tournaments throughout the early stages of his career. Lin was a 2008 high school All-America.
DeVore feels his team is ready to take on the tough competition at the early-season tournaments.
“We will be tested early,” he said. “But these events will only make us stronger as we prepare for the spring season.”