Coming off back-to-back regular season championships in the Crossroads League, Grace’s men’s tennis team has reloaded for another charge at the league title.
Despite graduating three starters from the 2013 squad, head coach Larry Schuh is confident of the Lancers’ depth and ability to keep the pace in 2014.
“I do not sense the guys letting the pressure of being a two-time conference champ weighing them down,” Schuh said. “Part of that is confidence and part of that is because our players simply play fearlessly. They are not afraid to fail.”
Leading the team is returning No. 1 singles player Daniel Sanchez. The senior earned First Team All-League honors after posting a 6-2 record in singles and 6-2 record at No. 1 doubles.
Jose Marval is set to play a major role in his junior season, coming off an impressive 2013 campaign. Marval was a First Team All-League selection after finishing 7-1 at No. 2 doubles and 6-2 at No. 2 singles.
Other returners with experience include juniors Ricardo Bedon and Ethan Grove and sophomores David Driscoll, Jacob Stump and Gabe Vervynckt.
Schuh, a two-time CL Coach of the Year (2013, 2009), brought in two international players for the fall season. Sophomore Uros Pajic (Serbia) played his freshman season at NCAA Division I Chicago State and will likely play at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles in 2014. Freshman Danila Kourkoulin was a standout tennis player from Haifa, Israel.
Although the Lancers have high hopes of continuing their league success and advancing to NAIA Nationals, the Schuh-led Lancers are dedicated to remaining true to their mission.
“The goals and expectations every year center around going to nationals, but those expectations are embedded in doing it the right way,” Schuh said. “We see tennis as a means to glorify God. If we are winning but not reflecting Christ on the court, it is a vain pursuit and a meaningless result. But to win and to bring attention to Christ at the same time will enrich the winning experience while seeking first His kingdom.”
The first step in Grace’s defense of its league title begins on Aug. 27 at Huntington at 4:30 p.m.