This spring season, the men’s and women’s tennis teams will look to get a dual Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship as they prepare themselves for conference play. Under the leadership of first year head coach Jeff Bricker, both teams will use their experience to get them ahead.
Last season, the women’s team finished second in the MAAC after falling to the Quinnipiac Bobcats. The team finished 12-10 overall and seven Stags earned All-MAAC honors including Monica Yajima ‘14, Sharissa Ryan ‘14, and Victoria Pirello ‘14, who have now all graduated from Fairfield. Although the loss of seniors is always an obstacle for teams, the Stags have a number of athletes who will be able to step up and replace the seniors who have graduated.
According to a pre-season poll, the Stags have been picked to finish second in the MAAC, once again behind Quinnipiac. However, the relatively-young team has brought competition to the court in the past and will continue to do so this season.
Senior Allison Radde has been a member of the team since her freshman year and has been a huge asset to the team. During her junior season, Radde primarily played at number three singles and number three doubles with her partner Kaila Nelson ‘17. At number three doubles, she finished with an 8-7 record and as the season progressed, Radde was able to post a five match victory streak. She was named to the All-MAAC Second Team for her spot in the singles lineup, as well as for doubles.
The underclassmen of the team have already helped bring the team success in out-of-conference play. Sophomore Karen McKeough and her partner Radde led Lafayette 5-4 in their match at number one doubles.
Nelson, who earned the honor of All-MAAC Second Team last season, competed at number two doubles against Lafayette. The duo of Nelson and Erika Nannery ‘18 were able to defeat their opponents 6-4, showing that they will be a prominent pair in upcoming play.
With one year of Division 1 tennis under her belt, Nelson will need to prepare her doubles partner Nannery for college-level competition. Nannery is just one of five freshmen who have already begun playing competitively on the court. The five freshmen represent about half of the team and already, only two matches into the season, they have made their mark.
Freshman Sarah Stuhlmann has competed in both matches at number one singles and she is expected to continue with a successful momentum for the team. Although they are a young team, the experience they have now and continue to bring in the future will make them a threat to opponents as the season progresses.
Like the women’s team, the men’s team is also very young. After graduating only two seniors, this season the team has been voted to finish fifth in the MAAC, but under the leadership of Bricker, the team hopes to finish even higher.
Junior Ofir Solomon has been a leader for the team during his last two years with the team. Last season, Solomon earned the honor of All-MAAC First Team for number two doubles, he was a part of the MAAC All-Academic Team and he was an Intercollegiate Tennis Association scholar athlete. He primarily played at number two singles and posted a 21-4 record in singles play. Solomon is off to a positive start this season after defeating Lafayette at number one singles.
The four freshmen of the team will be expected to take on a larger role than most, but it shouldn’t be anything out of their league, especially for Brad Orban ‘18. Orban, who played competitive tennis all throughout his high school career, entered the spring season on a high. During the match against Yale University on Sunday, Feb. 1, Orban defeated the 95th ranked tennis player in Division 1 tennis. This accomplishment was just one of many that the team hopes Orban will bring this season and seasons to come.
As the season begins for both teams, out of conference play will prepare them for upcoming MAAC play. The women’s team is scheduled to take on Providence College on Saturday, Feb. 21, while the men’s team will take on Fairleigh Dickinson. Both teams will be competing at the Solaris Club in Stamford, Conn.