Men’s tennis working toward rebound season
By Tyler Miranda
Coming off of a 6–16 season, the Northern Arizona University (NAU) men’s tennis team is looking to improve with six returning players from the past year.
Assistant coach Joseph Heckley said he believes the team is better than they were at this point the previous season.
“This fall season is going really good. We are really pushing footwork and we are a lot fitter than we were last fall,” Heckley said. “I can see ourselves improving tournament by tournament. When February and March roll around, we will be ready.”
The two top returning players, seniors Patrick Shimmelbauer and Shaun Waters, will anchor the team. Schimmelbauer went 3–1 at No. 3 singles the past year and Waters went 4–1 at No. 4 singles.
Junior Dominic Bermudez, an All-Big Sky second team member, also returns. This past year, he posted a 12–9 overall singles record.
“I still want to improve on my record to help the team even more and ultimately help us win the Big Sky Championship,” Bermudez said, in light of his winning record.
The program also welcomes Wichita State transfer sophomore Kester Black. During Black’s 2011-12 season at Wichita State, he posted a 10–7 overall singles record and helped his team attain a 16–6 record and a second-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“This program suits me better. I felt like where I was just wasn’t the right program for me and I wanted a change of scenery,” Black said about his decision to transfer. “This program is really great and I am looking to help out in any way I can.”
At the regional tournament in Las Vegas two weeks ago, there were two bright spots.
The first highlight was Waters’ record of 3–1, defeating opponents from the University of Nevada-Reno and the University of Idaho in straight sets. In the third match, Waters faced the No. 16 seed from Boise State University. The match went to three sets before Waters pulled away with the victory to advance him to the round of 16 before ultimately falling to an opponent from the University of Utah in straight sets.
Secondly, the doubles team of Schimmelbauer and Bermudez reached the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket, posting a 3–1 record in the regional tournament.
If there were any doubts as to whom the mid-season MVP would be, Heckley cleared them up.
“Sean Waters for sure,” Heckley said. “With his results at regionals and his hard work in the gym, he has really stepped it up and proved that he is ready for the spring.”
When asked what their goals are for this upcoming spring season, Black and Bermudez answered simultaneously, “Win the Big Sky.”
The Lumberjacks will compete in their final tournament of the fall schedule this weekend in preparation for spring season when they compete at the Larry Easley Memorial Classic in Las Vegas from Nov. 2-4. The team will compromised of senior Josh Levinson, juniors Dominic Bermudez and Alan Barrios and freshman Sarp Laleli.