By Zach D'Amico
A record-setting season for the Saint Vincent men’s tennis team resulted in a third-place finish at the President’s Athletic Conference (PAC) championship on April 27. The Bearcats finished with 13 wins, shattering the previous program-record of 10 which was set in the 2013 season.
Head coach Brian Niemiec, who has been at the helm of the program for the past two seasons, commented his team’s record-setting campaign.
“It’s a great feeling having set the program record for wins and all the credit really does go to the athletes. The group of seniors we had this year have been through a lot together and to send them out with a school record for wins was quite special,” Niemiec said.
The Bearcats entered the PAC playoffs as title-contenders but fell short, 5-4, to Grove City College in the semifinals on April 26. However, the team responded the following day to defeat Bethany College, 5-1, in a consolation match for third-place.
Saint Vincent was led by a trio of seniors in Ryan Hartz, Zach Fox and Alex Deluca, all three of whom featured as starters on last year’s squad. The Bearcats also returned junior Jon Oskin who finished with a 9-7 record at first singles in the 2019 season.
“This team is so special because it was the perfect mixture of veteran leaders and young guys contributing. Returning four starters from last year was huge in keeping a loose, player friendly culture intact,” Niemiec said.
Playing at two singles was freshman Mauricio Sanchez, of Venezuela, who went 13-2 in singles and 27-4 overall.
“Our three freshmen players, Mauricio Sanchez, Josh Boland and Aaron Kuhn, had a tremendous debut campaign combining for a 52-9 record and really helped to replace the production we lost from last year. Not only did the group of guys mesh while playing, but the team gelled off the court too. Everyone from our number one right down to our coach's assistant bought in to the team’s culture,” Niemiec said.
With the likes of Sanchez, Boland and Kuhn, the Bearcats are optimistic heading into the 2020 season.
“The team is lucky enough to return our top two starters for next season, so building upon this year’s success will be a little bit easier. We have two recruits coming in that will look to contribute right away, along with current rostered players that should crack the lineup. On top of being set up to succeed again next year the team's success this year will help in bringing in student-athletes for the next class,” Niemiec said.
Above all, Niemiec was thankful of the support his team received from the Saint Vincent community.
“I'd like to thank all members of the campus community that supported the team this season. There was a tremendous outpouring of support for us not only at our playoff match but throughout the whole season and it didn't go unnoticed. With the men's teams potential move back to playing on campus next year I hope the community support will continue and grow stronger,” Niemiec said.