Men's Tennis Begins Season This Weekend
Sept. 27, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana University men's tennis team begins the 2007-08 season this weekend with a pair of tournaments. Head Coach Randy Bloemendaal will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Men's All-American Championships while Assistant Coach Scott Linn heads north to the Tom Fallon Invitational on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.
Seniors Thomas Richter and Dara McLoughlin, along with redshirt freshman Phillip Eilers will join Coach Bloemendaal at the All-Americans. Coach Linn will be accompanied by Senior Peter Antons and freshmen Santiago Gruter and Jai Yoon in Notre Dame.
2007-08 MEN'S TENNIS PREVIEW
"We are not working this hard to finish second," said Bloemendaal. "We will not be happy if we aren't in the top 25 and we will not be happy if we don't make the NCAA tournament. Those are our bottom-line goals."
Joining Bloemendaal on the new coaching staff is Scott Linn. Linn brings head coaching experience to IU, holding that position at Florida Southern (2004-07), Embry-Riddle (1999-04; men's and women's) and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (1997-99).
"He (Linn) is a wealth of tennis knowledge," said Blomendaal. "He is the right guy for this program. He brings an energy that is needed, and I don't think I could have picked someone anymore perfect for the job that we have at hand here at IU."
A trio of seniors are expected to lead the Hoosiers to success in 2007-08. Thomas Richter, Dara McLoughlin and Michael McCarthy all have vast playing experience and will play big roles for Indiana this season.
Richter is on the brink of becoming one of the elite players in the nation. He transferred to IU last year after two seasons at Birmingham-Southern. In his first season as a Hoosier, he spent some time in the No. 1 singles slot, compiling a 6-5 record there and 14-9 overall. Richter is ranked No. 51 in the preseason national singles poll and is expected to occupy the No. 1 slot for Indiana. "We want him to qualify for the NCAAs in both singles and doubles," said Bloemendaal. "He is going to play a big role in the success of this program, on and off the court."
McLoughlin is another player who saw some time at No. 1 singles last year. Known as an excellent ball striker, McLoughlin is a superb doubles player as well. He and Richter earned five wins over nationally-ranked doubles opponents last season.
"He is capable of being an All-Big Ten player," said Bloemendaal. "We really hope he fills those shoes this year, and steps up big."
McCarthy recorded 12 singles and six doubles wins last year despite battling injuries. The IU coaching staff is expecting him to fill the "closer" role in '07-'08, winning the pressure matches when the team score is tight.
"We really need him to step into the role of closing out matches, and I think he will," said Bloemendaal. "A lot of tight matches could come down to him this year, so he could be a big difference-maker for us getting into the top tier."
The junior class for the '07-'08 campaign includes returner Peter Antons and Mississippi State transfer, Eric Lim. Antons is a hard worker and one of the most skilled doubles players on the team. He has worked very hard over the summer in order to raise his game to the next level.
"He got some experience last year, a lot of Big Ten experience," said Bloemendaal. "Now he knows the level of play and what he needs to do to get there. He has been working very hard at it over the summer."
"Eric (Lim) is a very talented player," said Bloemendaal. "He could be someone that wins a lot of matches for us, both singles and doubles."
Phillip Eilers and Lachlan Ferguson are a pair of redshirt freshmen that are needed to contribute significantly this upcoming season. Eilers was consistently ranked in the top 10 in Germany during his juniors career and was a six-time state champion of indoor and outdoor singles.
"If he (Eilers) gets adjusted quickly, he is going to be something special," said Bloemendaal. "He hits the ball like guys that earn a living playing this game."
Ferguson racked up numerous accolades during his juniors years in Australia, including the No. 1 ITF national ranking in both singles and doubles.
"He is a proven winner and if he is healthy, he'll win," said Bloemendaal. " He's not young in `tennis' years and has very strong leadership qualities."
Two fresh faces have been added to the Hoosier roster for 2007-08. True freshmen Santiago Gruter and Jai Yoon are both expected to immediately compete for playing time. Gruter played in the International Tennis Federation Circuit and the Davis Cup Juniors in El Salvador. Yoon compiled a 37-6 record during his four-year high school career and reached the New York state quarterfinals two times.
"I don't believe Gruter is going to be overwhelmed, but it's going to be more about sticking with the day-to-day responsibilities and being focused on what he needs to get done to become the best player he can be," said Blomendaal.
"Jai is a lefty with lots of talent and very athletic," said Bloemendal. "He has never been exposed to this level of play, so his discipline and hard work will need to guide him in the transition to this level."
Intra-squad competition should be intense this year, as many slots in the starting lineup are up for grabs.
"When you have nine guys on a team and only six of them play, it's not like basketball where you can sub in and out," said Bloemendaal. "You are either playing or not playing."
Bloemendaal and his Hoosiers will not be satisfied until they reach their goals: winning championships. And the road to those goals began the moment Bloemendaal accepted the head coaching position and it continues into the 2007-08 season when Indiana travels to the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 28-30 for the season-opener.
"You've got to see the mountain in front of you that you want to climb," said Bloemendaal. "And these guys see it."
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