By Mac Moore
The snow days and snowfall have interfered with the early season practice for the tennis team, but they still have bright plans for themselves during the sunnier days in March.
The women’s squad ranks sixth in the NJCAA heading into the season. Sophomores Shannon Beckett and Erica Castillo-Lopez are ranked third in the nation in doubles, as well Beckett being ranked fifth in singles. With no matches played, the tandem has already made a step forward through another team’s mishap.
“The number two team, one of the girls had surgery and is out for year,” head coach Glen Moser said. “So technically, I guess, [Beckett and Castillo-Lopez] are the number two doubles now.”
Sophomore Daniel De Zamacona and freshman Spartak Rahachou are currently set to lead the charge for the Cavaliers as the team’s number one doubles. De Zamacona is also ranked sixth in singles. Overall the team is ranked eighth heading into the season.
“Ranked number eight, that’s a fair assessment,” Moser said. “I like to think our men are better than eighth but the top 10 teams are looking pretty even and pretty close.”
Moser said most years there is a distinct advantage between the top squads. While his team is ranked similarly to last year, he feels the field is much more even from top to bottom.
Part of that can be attributed to the new international rule. Previously, teams would stock themselves with the top foreign players. Local talent was nearly non-existent.
This season, junior college teams are only allowed two total international players. Draper believes this will allow mid-range squads the chance to compete against the top teams.
Sophomore Michael Draper believes because of this, both teams can put together a quality season and make a run at nationals.
“I feel as if we play to our full potential then we have a real shot,” Draper said. “With the international rule, you are going to see some teams not be as deep all the way through the lineup as in years past. The bottom of some team’s lineups will be much weaker than before.”
The international rule should shrink the talent differential of the top and bottom teams. It should also give the team trouble with the four-year universities they face throughout the year. Moser knows this, but still believes this will definitely benefit Cavalier tennis in future seasons.
“In 2009, I looked at the top 50 JUCO players and 45 were foreign, five were American,” Moser said. “We had three of them. That’s in the top 50, that’s how foreign the sport has become. Now JUCO teams are forced to go out and get American kids. Personally I like it; it’s more a of ‘community college’ philosophy.”
The team will really get a feel for their ability to compete once spring break arrives. Both squads will compete in a five-day, five-tournament stretch from March 15-19. The men’s team is facing three of the top 10 teams during that time.
“The neat thing is we are going to face the number one, four, five, seven and 10 squads during our season,” Moser said. “There are not a lot of sports where you can play five of the top 10 teams on your schedule.”
Editor’s note: Daniel De Zamacona is an employee of The Campus Ledger.
Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at email@example.com.