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Saints 9th in Preseason Poll

01/29/2014 – The men's tennis team opens the 2014 season as the 9th ranked team in the NAIA. Coach Hendrick's crew, who went 25-5 a year ago, will look to build on last year's "Elite 8" appearance and maintain their status as a small college tennis power.

This year’s team will be led by senior Aaron Hendrick, who was honored after both his sophomore and junior seasons as a First Team All-American. Hendrick finished last season ranked among the top 20 players in the nation in singles and with partner Nik Artaev was ranked among the top 15 doubles teams nationally. Senior Nik Artaev also returns after having another exceptional year playing #2 singles. Artaev spent the first semester of his junior year studying in Spain, but quickly made up for lost time and had another stellar season in both singles and doubles. Also returning for their senior seasons are Brendan Petz, Fran Huber and Peter Tratt. Brendan was a reliable performer last season in singles and won nearly every match he participated in. Fran continued his progress on the hard courts and made on-going improvements in consistency. Peter Tratt returns to the courts after spending last spring in an internship. Peter had played #6 singles and #3 doubles in 2012 before missing last season but will be expected to compete once again for a spot at the bottom of the line-up. Kristoff Saari will begin his sophomore year after having an incredible freshman season. Saari began his freshman year reaching the semi-finals of the ITA Regional Championship and remained a top-level player all year. After a summer of heavy competition Saari will be expected to play an even bigger role on this year’s team and should remain in the top half of the line-up. Frankie Fischer and Andy Struble round out the list of returning players from last year’s squad. Both Fischer and Struble were starters in singles and doubles last year and both experienced considerable success in their rookie seasons.

Coach Hendrick is very excited about the newcomers to this year’s team. This includes Gunnar Peery and Fisher Sutherland. Peery comes to Aquinas from Brother Rice High School where he was a D-1 All-State performer at #1 singles. Peery is a 2-Star recruit and has been an active and successful competitor in the tough USTA SEMTA District. Sutherland has been a 3-Star recruit and comes to Aquinas from Traverse City Central High School in Northen Michigan. Sutherland had an impressive career playing #1 singles all four years and was honored as a D-2 All-State player in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

Overall expectations at Aquinas remain very high for another especially successful year of tennis. The 2013/14 team hopes to improve on their record-setting top 10 ranking from last season and should be a favorite to win their conference and region championships. As always, the team’s top goal is to qualify for the National Championship tournament to be played in Mobile, Alabama in May. Despite a very strong schedule the Saints are looking forward to a challenging, yet successful 2014.

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