2005-06 Men's Tennis Season Preview
Sept. 15, 2005
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The 2005-06 men's tennis team returns seven players from a season ago but must fill in the gaps from three lost starters, including the graduation of its No. 1 and No. 2 singles players from last year. Indiana head coach Ken Hydinger will look for players from the top to the bottom of the lineup to boost their level of play in attempting to help IU back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.
"We last three starters from last season. We lost our No. 1 in Jakub (Praibis), our No. 2 in (Ryan) Recht and a four-year player in (Tom) Bagnato," Hydinger said. "This year, we are going to count on some guys filling those holes, and it starts with our three seniors. The theme we are talking about this year is getting our guys to reach a championship level physically, mentally and emotionally. We need guys to step up from what they have done in the past, but I don't think it is a step up from what they are capable of. "
Those three senior leaders returning for the Hoosiers are Neil Kenner, Dmytro Ishtuganov and John Stone. All three have enjoyed success during their Hoosier careers and are expected to make a jump in the line up during the 2005-06 season.
Kenner saw the most action at No. 3 for the Hoosiers in 2004-05. He finished the year with an 11-9 mark overall, including an 8-8 record in dual matches.
"Neil is a guy with great character and work ethic," Hydinger said. "He was a little up and down last year with injuries. We are hoping that he can stay healthy and take his game to the next level. I know Neil has been working hard this summer and is expecting that out of himself."
Ishtuganov has been a vital part of the Hoosiers' doubles contingent over the past two seasons. He has won 20-plus matches in doubles in 2003-04 and 2004-05. He played up and down the line up last season, making a stop at every singles position with the exception of No. 1. He finished with a 6-3 dual match record in winning 12 singles matches.
"Dmytro has played outstanding doubles, but his singles play has not matched his production in doubles," Hydinger said. "He has some talents. At times through certain practice situations, he looked great last year. We need him to step up for us."
Stone has been a fixture in the Hoosier line up since his freshman season. The Greenwood, Ind., native has amassed 46 doubles victories over his three-year career, playing primarily at the No. 1 position. In 2004-05, Stone had an exceptional spring in singles, going 14-3 in dual matches and finishing the year with a 17-5 overall record.
"John had a good year for us a season ago at No. 6 singles," Hydinger said. "We need him to move that up a couple of spots in the line up."
The lone returning junior for the Hoosiers is David Bubenicek. Along with graduated All-Big Ten player Praibis, Bubenicek was one of only two Hoosiers to pick up more than 20 victories in singles last season. He finished the year with a 21-7 mark, moving up to the No. 3 position in singles. The Kromeriz, Czech Republic, native was 9-3 at that position and 17-4 overall in dual matches.
"I really like David as a tennis player," Hydinger said. "He has one of the best traits in that he can play without mistakes. He is not going to beat himself. The challenge for David this year is going to be playing a little bit higher quality shot level, taking more risks while still employing his error-free tennis game."
Sophomores Mike McCarthy and Dara McLoughlin return after making significant contributions during their rookie campaigns. McCarthy battled injury but still finished the season with 15 victories in singles. McLoughlin's main contribution came in doubles, where he finished the year with a 16-10 record.
McCarthy began his Hoosier career by winning the first eight matches of the fall season, including an appearance in the round of 16 at the Midwest Regional Championships and an individual title in the Silver Flight at the Boilermaker Invitational.
"Mike had some very good preseason and early season results, but he had some bad arm problems," Hydinger said. "He played with a lot of pain. If you look at his numbers from last season, they were certainly not what he wanted, what he is capable of or any indication of what he can do. Mike is a good competitor, athlete and player. I am counting on him to make some major-league strides."
McLoughlin finished the year with a 5-4 singles record, including a 2-2 mark at No. 6 singles. The 6-3, 160-pounder played exclusively at the No. 3 doubles position, amassing a 13-9 dual match record.
"Dara came in and played a little at No. 6 singles for us last year," Hydinger said. "He had an adjustment period last year, coming from a small country like Ireland to the U.S. I think Dara is going to make a tremendous jump from not starting in singles to making a big contribution."
The Hoosiers also return one redshirt from a season ago in freshman Mak Kendall. He helped his high school program, Harriton, to the 2004 Pennsylvania State Championship and a perfect regular season record of 22-0.
"Mak Kendall redshirted for us last year," Hydinger said. "My indications are that Mak is going to come in and make some contributions this year."
IU adds a pair of freshmen to the seven returners in Mario Gonzalez and Peter Antons. Gonzalez is a 6-4, 174-pound player from the International College of Spain in Madrid. He finished as a semifinalist in the 2005 Los Rozas el Abojon Tournament (Madrid, Spain).
"Mario has good fundamentals and appears to be a good athlete," Hydinger said. "He is a little underexposed, meaning that he hasn't played some of the international competitions. Mario has spent a lot of time on clay, playing in Spain. He is a big man that likes to ground stroke. I think he will develop into more of an attacking player."
Antons was ranked eighth in the New England region and as high as 185th in the country by the USTA in the 18-and-under division. At the USTA New England Junior Sectional Championships, he claimed the doubles championship and also won the consolation singles title.
"Peter is a nice guy with nice fundamentals," Hydinger said. "He needs to get stronger and add a little more pop in his game off the ground. He has good, clean motions and hits cleanly. I think he has a good chance of coming in and contributing in doubles right away because his game is good for doubles."
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