2004-05 Season Preview
The 2004-05 Indiana men's tennis team returns all eight players from a year ago and welcomes a pair of strong newcomers to this year's squad. Head coach Ken Hydinger and the Hoosiers will look to embark on a return to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2001.
"The team finished fourth in the Big Ten last year, and we've got everybody back, including four seniors. Expectations are high," said Hydinger.
The Hoosiers return All-Big Ten performer and the No. 1 singles player on last year's team in senior Jakub Praibis. Praibis was selected to play as an individual at last season's NCAA Singles Championships in Tulsa, Okla.
"Jakub lost 6-4, 7-6, to the number three seed in the second round of the NCAA tournament," said Hydinger. "We are expecting big things out of him."
Praibis teamed with junior Dmytro Ishtuganov at the No. 2 doubles position. The tandem finished the year with a mark of 18-3, including a 10-match winning streak to close the season.
Hydinger is excited about his top-two doubles teams, as the No. 1 pair of junior John Stone and senior Ryan Recht finished the season ranked tied for 13th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Region.
"Our number two doubles team of Jakub [Praibis] and Dmytro [Ishtuganov] really had a great season last year," said Hydinger. "They came on strong at the end of the spring and just got better and better. I know that they are going to have high aspirations as well as our returning No.1 doubles team of John [Stone] and Ryan [Recht]. We are going to have two really proven and experienced doubles teams at No. 1 and 2."
With six quality players vying for the other two doubles spots, the third doubles team should be just as strong.
"For the third doubles team, we have a fair amount of good doubles players. We have to just see which combination will work," said Hydinger. "I'm pretty optimistic about everything."
Recht played a majority of last season at the No. 2 singles spot and he, along with Praibis, give coach Hydinger a strong 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup.
"Ryan came on very strong at the end of last year," commented Hydinger. "He had some real good wins toward the end of the season, and we are expecting to be strong at the top with Ryan and Jakub."
Seniors Tom Bagnato and Ryan McCarthy played anywhere from the No. 3 to the No. 6 positions last year. The pair rounds-out the senior core that will provide valuable depth to the team.
"Tom Bagnato had big wins last year, said Hydinger. "Ryan McCarthy is a hard worker and a great athlete, and I know that I can count on both of them for depth in the singles."
Junior Neil Kenner played at the No. 3 singles position last year. "Neil transferred to Indiana and he played three for us and did a respectful job," said Hydinger. "He is going to get even better with experience.
Sophomore David Bubenicek saw action at the No. 4 and 5 positions last year and coach Hydinger has high aspirations for him. "The guy nails. He is quick and doesn't make mistakes," said Hydinger "He is tough to beat and his second year on the hard courts he should improve a whole lot.
With all these upperclassmen and depth with numbers, predicting a line-up could be a challenge for Hydinger. "It is going to be hard to figure out the line-up. It is going to be a very competitive situation at practice."
Coach Hydinger will also welcome a pair of freshmen that have the ability to play right away. Michael McCarthy, brother of current team member Ryan, was the Ohio State Player of the Year. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native finished his senior year with a record of 36-0.
Dara McLoughlin of Dublin, Ireland, joins the team after being selected as an alternate for the 2004 Irish Davis Cup Team this past summer.
"Everybody on the team improved last year, and at the same time, the two freshman that I have coming in, I expect are going to play for us, said Hydinger.
"So we are going to be 10 guys deep and 10 guys who I know can play for us. It's going to be a very spirited situation and baring any injuries, it should be a very competitive line-up."
Check back soon