By: Matt Merkel
Franciscan University of Steubenville’s men’s tennis team recently finished its four-week fall season. This short series of matches counts toward the Baron’s spring tennis season. The men will get 20 weeks a season to split between the spring and fall. After playing four weeks in the fall, the Barons are better prepared for a spring semester with very high expectations.
“Our team in the spring is going to be pretty much unstoppable if you ask me,” head coach Jeremy Ellis said. “We’re going to have more players than we have ever had. It’s going to be a good spring for us.”
The Barons look forward to a full team led by Ellis who has put eight years of tennis coaching under his belt. He has been with the Barons for two years as a head coach, and had spent a season here before, as the assistant coach.
Before coming to Steubenville, Ellis spent three years in Florida teaching and coaching under his father. He then moved up north to Dayton, Ohio and was the head tennis director at the Dayton Center Courts for two years. His resume reflects the strong leadership needed to lead last year’s AMCC runner-up team to a championship win for the 2012-2013 season.
Ellis said that this fall season acts as crucial preparation time for a very young Baron team.
“You get better in the fall,” said Ellis. “It’s a good way to see what the team will look like in the spring. You can play tougher schools because the weather is so much nicer and the matches don’t mean as much”
The Barons lost their three non-traditional matches against West Liberty, Mount Union, and John Carroll, but Ellis said that the team maintained a competitive edge against other strong teams. Ellis also noted that their promising athleticism was from strong leadership from his captain and unexpected talent from young freshman players.
“Paul Jarzynka is a great captain, he leads his team with both energy and high spirituality,” Ellis said. “Zach Quiza and Pat Rowzie are very talented players as well. As freshman, they are going to bring the team a long way next school year.”
These standout Barons bring a lot of relief and excitement to a tennis team that only has two returning players from last spring. The tennis squad lost a few players to Franciscan’s study abroad program in Gaming, Austria. Another athlete jumped sports to play soccer, and another did not return. This left a strong Baron team from last year stripped down to their bottom line.
Despite these losses, Ellis said that he has seen a lot of talent and chemistry from the new athletes. The Barons will have a few more returning students for their spring season after they return from Austria. Having returning students and getting in-match experience for the new guys promises a successful season for the Baron squad.
The fall season gives the Barons a realistic starting point for improvement to prepare for a very competitive spring season. When asked what his team needed to focus on to improve the most, Ellis answered, “Doubles, we struggle in that area.”
In a tennis match, the Barons play three doubles matches and six singles matches. If the Barons do not get better in their doubles performance, it will put extra pressure on their singles matches; forcing them to win five out of six singles in order to win a match.
Come cheer on the Barons for an exciting spring season. The practice season starts mid-February with their first match in March. Let’s Go Barons!