The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Tennis has high hopes that are well within reach

By Pete Steele

With the arrival of spring semester, the Scots’ tennis teams have taken to the courts for the beginning of the 2009 season. No, they’re not playing outside yet (though an icy court might give some wicked bite to a slice backhand). Instead, the action thus far has taken place in field houses around the region, with players eagerly anticipating the spring days to come. Here’s a prognosis on what both teams are hoping will be a playoff season.


The women’s tennis team is coming off its most successful season in recent memory. Last spring, the team went 15-5 overall, including a stellar 8-2 performance in the MIAC. The team capped the season with a nail-biting 5-4 victory over Carleton in the first round of the conference playoffs before bowing out to a tough Saint Thomas team. This year, expectations are high to start the season, as the team has been ranked 4th in the MIAC by coaches in a preseason poll.

Fortunately for the team and its fans, there is no reason to doubt that the Scots will follow through on these expectations. Of the seven players who started at least one match in last year’s playoffs, five return. These are led by standout All-Conference performer Angie Horner ’09, who compiled a 19-1 singles record last season, and fellow All-Conference selection Stephanie Lee ’09. Lee played the number two singles position for the Scots, going an impressive 15-5. She and Horner also paired up at first doubles to compile an 18-2 record, making them one of the most successful doubles teams in the MIAC.

Horner says of being partnered with Lee, “People say it’s really funny to watch us. We don’t get really pumped up, we don’t clap hands or do high fives, that’s not our personality. We just joke around. We have a different chemistry than most teams, but it works for us.”

The Scots will back up this duo with a lineup consisting of largely old campaigners such as Amanda Wenzel ’10 and Becky Schneider ’11, who helped fill out both the singles and doubles lineups last season. The competitive experience they gained in ’08 and their knowledge of the landscape at the top of the conference should make them even more formidable players this year. Joining them will be newcomers Kelli Crescenti ’12 and Lucy Miner ’12, who according to Horner are “going to be really solid singles players, especially with a year or two of experience at the college level.” Abby Citrin ’11 rounds out the squad.

With last year’s successful run, the team sees no reason not to aspire to even higher accomplishments this time around. Look for them to improve on their semifinal showing in the playoffs last year by swinging all the way to the MIAC title match. If they get there, 21-time defending champ Gustavus will pose a serious challenge. In addition, other MIAC teams have had good recruiting years and will try to derail them along the way.

When asked if last year’s success puts any pressure on the team to perform this year, Horner said , “We much prefer the underdog role.we haven’t been [consistently] good for a long time, so the pressure hasn’t set in yet.”

Coach Jason Muhl is in his third year coaching the women, and his fifth year at the helm of the men’s team. He says that competition in the MIAC is tough because even though Macalester’s tennis program has improved immensely over the past few years, other teams are getting stronger just as quickly.

“There is not a weak link in the conference. Every team is strong,” he said.

And which player should you listen for to give the best Maria Sharapova-style shriek? Sources indicate it may be Citrin, so keep those ears open.


Depth is the name of the game on the Men’s side, which Muhl says will be the key to their success.

“We just have a ridiculous amount of depth. We’re really young, we’re really talented.”

After first singles player Charlie Edelman ’09, the vast majority of the starting lineup is made up of underclassmen.

“The guys who have stepped in, they’ve done a phenomenal job,” he said.

This corps of younger players is comprised of players such as Michael Coleman ’11, Evan Elderbrock ’12, Chris Fowler ’12, Paul Mairet ’11, and Lewis Wilcox ’12. They will have to pick up the slack this season after the Scots graduated their number one and two players from last year. That squad went 6-12 overall, and 2-7 in MIAC play. The team finished in a three-way tie for seventh, missing the MIAC playoffs by one spot.

According to Coleman “Our team goal is to make the MIAC playoffs, which I don’t think Mac tennis has done in a long time.”

Fans will be able to expect steady play from Edelman at first singles. The veteran went 8-8 in singles last year while playing anywhere from fifth to second position. He also had a successful doubles campaign, including a 7-3 record when playing with current partner Titus Levy ’10. Coleman will take up the reigns at the number two spot, drawing on his years of experience playing in the ultra-competitive tennis hotbed of Southern California. Fowler, the first year, has shown early season promise at the third position, winning 4 out of his first 5 matches. His singles wins against Saint Cloud State and St John’s each accounted for one of Macalester’s two points in two 7-2 losses. It is less certain who will play in the final three positions, a situation that is mostly due to injuries. Muhl says that as many as three of the regular top six are currently hurt, including Wilcox and Justin Margolies ’11.

Of course, if the Scots are really hoping to make a run in the MIAC, they will have to focus not just on their singles play, but on their doubles game as well. As Muhl explains, not only does doubles account for a third of the points in the match, but the fact that they are played before the singles matches makes them especially crucial.

“You always start with the doubles matches. You have to win at least one, because if you get swept, that’s a lot of pressure to win five singles matches,” Muhl said.

The truth of this was evident in the Scots recent match against St John’s, in which they lost all three doubles matches by close margins and went on to lose the match 7-2.

Unlike the women, who have only played one match, the men’s season is already in full swing. Besides the losses to SCSU and St John’s the Scots also have victories over regional rivals Martin Luther and Central (Iowa). They also have a loss to the perennially strong Luther (Iowa) squad, giving them a 2-3 record overall.

Looking ahead toward the MIAC schedule, the team believes it has some capacity to surprise. Speaking about conference powers Gustavus (17 straight MIAC titles on the men’s side) and Carleton, Coleman says “It would be a long shot to beat them, but it’s not impossible.

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