By Zack Shaw
Elm Staff Writer
On Feb. 19, the host Washington College men’s tennis teams started its season opener against visiting Catholic University, with a dominating 9-0 non-conference home win at Schotland Tennis Center.
WC steam rolled all over Catholic as the sets were not even close, in doubles at No. 2 senior Zack Novick and junior Justin Panepinto shut out their opponents 8-0. In singles competition, Novick continued his dominant play and shut out his opponent 6-0, 6-0. The closest Catholic got to winning a set was in doubles when Jake Sandler and Luke Weaver won 8-5 at No. 1.
“Compared to our slow start last season, it was important to start of the season with great team win. Everyone showed up to play their best tennis and it should bring some momentum while we head into conference play. We had a great turnout with fans and that just gets everyone into it,” said sophomore Jake Sandler.
The Shoremen seemed to learn from last year’s mistakes and will use their experience as a valuable tool moving forward. Last season the Shoremen didn’t have a single senior and retained most of their starters, Novick hopes to help lead WC to the playoffs.
“Being a senior on the team as well as being a captain, I have taken what I have learned throughout my four years on the tennis team and have used it to teach the younger players what I have learned. As a captain, I am also responsible to instill a type of culture that promotes a team friendly atmosphere, while at the same time being very competitive. My main responsibility is to take what our head coach wants from us, and relay that message to the rest of the team. I’m also responsible to motivate my team and take care of any on or off the court problems that might be occurring,” he said.
The men’s team has high expectations this year as they are projected to receive the fifth seed and make the postseason for the first time since 2010.
“This year I would love to see our men’s team make the conference tournament and put up a good showing. The Centennial Conference is one of the most competitive conferences so to be one of those five teams competing is an accomplishment,” assistant coach Kevin Papen said.
“I expect us to be a tougher team this season. I think we have a lot of guys who can contribute and help our team succeed to reach the playoffs. Personally, I want to start being more of a leader now as an upperclassman on and off the court to help our team be at our best,” junior John Niswander said.
The Shoremen will look to build on the momentum when they host St. Mary’s on March 4 at noon.