onals in 2002, the UR men’s tennis team is primed and ready for another run at postseason play this year.

The squad hopes to accomplish this feat with strong play from a diverse lineup that features a medley of experienced veterans and talented newcomers. Senior Dan Schoenherr, juniors Colin Ryan and Dan Williford and sophomores Avinash Reddy and Brian Shenker all return to lead a group of established upperclassmen.

Solid additions are freshmen Josh Bruce-Black, Ariel Almog and Eric Prince who appear to have the potential to make an immediate impact.

“Our depth is wonderful,” head coach Chris O’Brien said. “We have a lot of new young talent that I hope I get a chance to play in some matches. We’re pretty deep and strong throughout.”

The Yellowjacket players and coaches are very dedicated to preparing for match play and have spent countless hours getting in peak physical condition for the spring.

“A pretty important part of my job is to keep the guys healthy, so we do a lot of on-court and off-court training whether it be in the weight room, in the pool, plyometrics or sprint work,” O’Brien said. “You name it, I’ll try it.”

The spring schedule is comprised of two parts. The first section is a tune-up filled with matches against local Division I and Division III schools in February and March. The second section is designed to help the team get ready for Nationals, as it squares off against some of the more competitive Division III teams.

That segment of the schedule kicks off the weekend of March 20 when UR will face Kenyon College, Bowdoin College and Bates College at home. “We play three teams that weekend in the top-20, so that will be a big weekend for us,” O’Brien said.

Things do not get much easier for the Yellowjackets after that, as they play 25th-ranked Swarthmore College, a team that owns a five-game win streak against UR, as well as tough matches against regional foes Amherst College and Wesleyan College the weekend of April 19-20. “Almost every weekend in April we’ll have a big Division III weekend. They are all matches we need to win,” O’Brien said.

The squad is focused on the task at hand, and does not want to see this season come to the same premature halt that last year’s campaign did.”Our team goal every season is to try to get to Nationals,” O’Brien said. “We fell a spot short last year and we hope not to have the same thing happen this year.”

One roadblock that stood in UR’s path to Nationals last season was its scheduling. The team did not play against some of the top-tier schools that may have looked more impressive on a resume to the selection committee.

“We changed our schedule around a lot this year just to give us a chance to play all the teams that were just above us,” O’Brien said. “There were teams last year that were ranked ahead of us, yet we never got to play. We feel a pure shot at playing these teams will be the difference.”With their sights set on Nationals, the Yellowjackets hope that last year’s heartbreaking finish will make a trip to postseason play this year taste that much sweeter.

Gerton can be reached at mgerton@campustimes.org.

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