by Daniel Witke
NEWBURGH– The Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) men’s tennis team returns to action this week with new players, new challenges, and a new head coach.
Hailing from Michigan, Head Coach Eric Sturgis is excited to begin his first season with MSMC. Sturgis, who has coached high school tennis for the last ten years, has always wanted to coach college tennis.
The team also welcomes two assistant coaches, Jamie Lubniewski and Steve Phillips.
Lubniewski played tennis at the Mount and was the number one singles player in her senior year. Philips has just finished his first year as the assistant basketball coach, and as a former high school tennis player, will be the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
Recently, the Knights were voted by other Skyline coaches to take third play in a preseason poll. Yeshiva was voted first followed by Farmingdale State.
In the fall, the team had lost four starting players to graduation, including the school’s all time win leader, Greg Jacob. Jacob broke a school record last season when he won his 78th match on the last day of the regular season.
This year, the team consists of new leaders, including returning players such as senior Connor Bean and junior Joe Borden. The team also includes freshman Chris Jaros and Connor Gargan who will replace the former starters. These four are likely to have strong seasons when playing resumes.
Mount Saint Mary College is not the only team to lose players.
Schools such as Farmingdale State and St. Joseph’s College both had graduates, losing their number one player, along with other starters in their lineups.
Last season, both schools made the playoffs but lost in the semi-finals. These two schools will be tough competitors again for the Knights this season. Because all three teams had to see their best players graduate, they will likely have new stars to shine this season.
In addition, according to the school website, NYU-Poly was forced to drop out of the Skyline Conference because of athletic budget cuts, being replaced by Sarah Lawrence College. The Knights have never played this school and will likely be challenged by their new opponent.
According to their athletics website, Sage, who has finished last in the previous four seasons, was voted last in the pre-season polls.
With twelve matches on the schedule, the Knights are in for a challenging, yet exciting year.