2012 Trinity Men's Tennis Preview
The momentum of successful spring and fall campaigns will carry over to the Trinity Tigers men’s tennis players as they open the 2012 season Feb. 1 by hosting St. Edward’s University.
In the spring season of 2011, the Tigers won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship (for the second straight year), advanced to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals, and produced three individual participants in the national singles and doubles championships.
Recently, in October 2011, Tiger players won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Singles and Doubles titles (played at Trinity), and advanced to the ITA National Small College Championships.
All of this success has third-year head Coach Russell McMindes ready to see his 10th-ranked Tigers take on some of the best teams in the nation!
“We have a lot of talent, from the freshman level on up,” said Coach McMindes, who has also assumed the head coaching duties of the Tiger women’s team. “The guys are really hungry for the spring season. They play with a lot of passion and energy, and will really thrive in dual matches.”
Right alongside Coach McMindes is his brother, Jacob McMindes, the Tiger men’s and women’s assistant coach. Jacob McMindes, in his third season on the staff, was elected the 2011 ITA Division III West Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year.
The 2012 dual matches – with 12 events scheduled on nine dates– will be played at the newly renovated Butch Newman Tennis Center, and the Al G. Hill Jr. Tennis Stadium. Butch Newman, a longtime Tiger coach and former player, is Trinity’s Director of Tennis, and Al G. Hill Jr., who made the facilities possible with a challenge grant, was a teammate of Coach Newman’s in the 1960s.
Eight veterans and eight newcomers make up this year’s edition of Trinity men’s tennis.
Senior Max Frey (Tulsa, Okla./Holland Hall) won the ITA Regional singles and doubles crowns, in all Trinity finals. Frey beat sophomore teammate Greg Haugen (Austin, Texas/Bowie) in the “A” Singles Championship. He later teamed with junior Erick DelaFuente (El Paso, Texas/Coronado) to capture the doubles title, beating Haugen and first-year player Aaron Skinner (Columbia, Mo./Rock Ridge). Skinner was also a singles semifinalist.
Ben Carroll (Evansville, Ind./Reitz Memorial), a senior, and first-year Jordan Mayer (San Antonio/Churchill) advanced to the Regional doubles semifinals. Mayer played No. 1 singles for the Class 5A state finalist Churchill Chargers. The “B” Singles honors went to first-year player Pablo Diaz Boom (Cancun, Mexico/Instituto Cesare), who beat first-year teammate Eric Schluter (San Antonio/Clark). Schluter and Boom later paired up to capture “B” Doubles.
Frey and DelaFuente advanced to the ITA National Small College Championships at Mobile, Ala. The Tiger duo took home fifth place in the doubles event, and Frey represented Trinity in the singles competition.
Coach McMindes also earned accolades in the fall, as he was named the United States Professional Tennis Association Texas Division College Coach of the Year.
Last season’s march to the NCAA Championships began as Trinity defeated DePauw 6-3 in the SCAC final at North Little Rock, Ark. Coach McMindes was honored by his peers as the SCAC Coach of the Year, for the second straight time. The Tigers moved on to the NCAA Regional at St. Peter, Minn. Trinity earned a trip to the quarterfinals with a 5-3 victory over host Gustavus Adolphus, and a 5-2 nod over the University of Chicago.
Eventual NCAA champion Amherst beat Trinity 5-0 in the quarterfinals, played at Claremont, Calif. It marked the Tigers’ 14th trip to the final eight. The Tigers completed the campaign with a 16-13 dual-match record.
Bobby Cocanougher and Cory Kowal, who both graduated, played in the NCAA doubles tournament. Cocanougher and Frey received bids to the NCAA the singles event.
Frey advanced to the NCAA singles semifinals, and became the first Tiger player to achieve that feat since 2005. The All-American also played a major role in Trinity’s SCAC Championship and NCAA Regional dual-match victories. Frey clinched the win for the Tigers in the SCAC title match, and the two Regional match-ups.
Carroll went 10-3 in singles, and 14-13 in doubles with Don Murray, who graduated. A solid returning senior is Franklin Davis (Dallas/Highland Park). DelaFuente had a 13-13 singles record, and registered a mark of 20-5 in doubles with Frey.
Haugen had an excellent first year, going 17-6 in singles matches. Julio Benavides (El Paso/Coronado) gained experience and had a 6-6 singles record. Arvind Fernando (Colombo, Sri Lanka/American International School/Dhaka) and Eshan Jayamanne (Colombo, Sri Lanka/Asian International School) will once again add depth to the lineup.
“We are definitely strong,” Coach McMindes added. “We have a 16-man roster, and there is a lot of diversity throughout the lineup.”
The most experienced of the newcomers is sophomore transfer Jacob Straus (San Antonio/Alamo Heights), who red-shirted last season at Oklahoma. Straus began his collegiate career at Marquette, where he tallied a 25-10 overall record in the 2009-10 season. He was a standout for the Alamo Heights Mules, playing his freshman and sophomore years. During his sophomore season, Straus captured the state Class 4A doubles championship.
Two new Tigers hail from the St. Louis area: Charlie Curtis (St. Louis/Mary Institute and Country Day School) and Greg Marifian (Belleville, Ill./St. Louis University High School). Curtis was named tennis player of the year, as well as making first team all-conference in soccer. Marifian was a four-time team most valuable player, and earned All-Metro honors from 2009-2011.
Brandon Thompson (Freeport, Maine/Wayneflete) won the Maine Class C state singles championship in 2010, and was a finalist in 2009. Thompson played No. 1 singles on the squad which won three consecutive state titles.
“We are coming in with just as strong a team as we had last year,” said Assistant Coach McMindes. “The chemistry of the guys, and the excitement of the upcoming spring season, makes us thrilled to see what they are capable of accomplishing.”
Following the opener with St. Edward’s, ranked 20th in the NCAA Division II, the Tigers host Laredo Community College (the top-ranked junior college team) Feb. 11. Trinity takes on Texas Lutheran and Division II member University of the Incarnate Word on Feb. 12. Texas-San Antonio, a Division I team, hosts the Tigers Feb. 15.
Our Lady of the Lake University (an NAIA member) of San Antonio, and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor visit the Trinity campus March 3.
The Tigers return to Claremont March 8-13 to play some of the best teams in Division III, including No. 8 Pomona-Pitzer, 14th-ranked Bowdoin, and No. 15 Redlands.
Three SCAC schools come to town March 31, as Trinity hosts Austin College, Southwestern, and Colorado College.
Trinity plays host to McMurry April 13, and wraps up the home schedule April 14 with Oklahoma Christian (an NAIA team, where Coach McMindes first played collegiate tennis) and St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, a Division II school.
The SCAC Tournament is slated for April 27-29 at North Little Rock, and the NCAA Regionals will be played May 11-13, at a site to be determined.
The NCAA Championships are scheduled for May 22-27 at Cary, N.C.