Men’s Tennis: “Strength in Numbers” - 2012 Season Preview
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich men's tennis team enters the 2012 season with perhaps its strongest squad in the six-year tenure of head coach Kyle Dezotell.
The Cadets are coming off a 6-5 overall season one year ago and a 2-2 mark in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play. They lost in the GNAC Tournament semifinals 7-2 to Emerson after qualifying as the No. 3 seed.
Hyte has been named the team Most Valuable Player the last two seasons and was the GNAC Player of the Year as a sophomore. He posted a 10-1 record in 2011 at first singles and ended the year with a nine-match winning streak. Hyte is now 27-6 in his career in singles matches.
"We had a pretty solid year last year and we haven't lost too many pieces to that team," Dezotell said. "With Collin coming back for his senior year, that's a major positive for us and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do for us in his final season. He's had a heck of a career so far."
Hoskey was 9-1 in his rookie year at second singles and finished the season with an eight-match winning streak. He earned three Rookie of the Week honors in 2011 and was the runner up for the Rookie of the Year.
"Also having Christian back is big for us," Dezotell said. "He had a great rookie season last year and we expect him to continue to improve and hopefully be right in there with Collin in terms of having the ability to win every match he plays."
Dezotell will also have a couple of promising newcomers at his disposal when filling out his lineup this spring that have looked sharp so far in practice.
"Zach was originally recruited to play here three years ago but came and committed himself to the Corps of the Cadets and the Mountain Cold Weather team. Just this year as a senior he decided to pick up his racket one more time and he will make an immediate impact for us."
Grindle and Reichelt have not only improved the team depth this season, they have also both challenged Hyte and Hoskey who went through all of last season as the top two singles players.
"We don't fully know how our top four stacks up right now," Dezotell said. "We're still working on our competitive ladder to see how it all shakes out. In the six years I've been coaching tennis here, we've never had four players this good that have a chance to win every match they play."
The Cadets will also be a lot tougher to match up with this year in doubles than they have been in previous years with the core group of four.
Seniors Anthony Verno (Williamson, N.Y.) and Graham Oliveira (Westerly, R.I.), along with sophomores Joseph Dvorak (De Soto, Kan.) and Brandon Carver (Peru, Maine) will all compete for time with freshman Patrick Ogden (Madison, Ala.) to fill out the remainder of the lineup.
"The biggest thing it does for us is it gives us two excellent doubles team, which we have never really had," He said. "A doubles win is just as important as a singles win, and since you start with doubles, it can be big for momentum in the match to come out ahead 2-1 or 3-0. Since I've been here, 90 percent of the matches we've played the team that is ahead after doubles has won the match."
Norwich is in the unique situation of being the only team in the conference to have its own indoor tennis courts on campus which Dezotell said can definitely be an advantage at times. The Cadets will host both Emerson and Suffolk this year after those two schools were the only two that beat NU in league play last year.
"We're very lucky to have nice indoor courts on campus which none the schools we compete against have," Dezotell said. "We definitely have a home court advantage in that respect so it will be nice to have Emerson and Suffolk at home this year."
Even though the Cadets have their sights set on being in the hunt for the GNAC title, they'll still have to fend off challenges from Anna Maria, Johnson & Wales and Albertus Magnus.
"I think it will be more of a challenge to make the playoffs this season with the addition of Anna Maria," Dezotell said. "They are kind of an unknown being new to the league so we'll have to be ready to expect anything in that match. Johnson & Wales has also had traditionally strong teams in the past so we can't look past anybody."
Norwich opened up its 2012 campaign with a convincing 8-1 win over Castleton State this past Saturday. The Cadets lost both matches last year to Castleton. NU returns to action on Wednesday, March 21 when it hosts Lyndon State at 4 p.m.