01/30/2013 – The men's tennis team opens the 2013 season as the 9th ranked team in the NAIA. Coach Hendrick's crew, who went 26-3 a year ago, will look to build on last year's "Sweet 16" appearance and maintain their status as a small college tennis power. The ranking is the highest ever to be attained by the men's tennis program.
The Saints graduated two players from last year's conference and regional championship squad that finished the season ranked #13 in the country. Both Travis Wolf and John Telfer had been 4-year starters for the Saints and played instrumental roles in their team’s successes. Travis and John will be severely missed this year as the team looks to fill the void left by two hard working and talented players.
The 2012-2013 team will include junior Aaron Hendrick, who was honored after his sophomore season as a First Team All-American. Hendrick was 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. Hendrick was also honored as the Conference Player of the Year for the second time. Junior Nik Artaev also returns after having another exceptional year playing #2 singles. Artaev competed with an injury and was less than 100% over the final three weeks of last season but has now fully recovered and is expected to dominate once again after returning from a semester of studying-abroad. Last year’s #4 player Kyle Masteller will return for his final season as a Saint. Masteller had his best season to date as a junior and proved equally dangerous in both singles and doubles. He will provide leadership this season both on and off the court. Michael Sendor returns to action for his senior year after missing all of last season. Michael will be expected to compete for a spot in both singles and doubles and will also play an important role in leadership. Peter Tratt played #6 singles and #3 doubles last season and gained important experience over the course of the season. Peter will be expected to continue his progress this season and should challenge for a spot at the bottom of the line-up once again. Brendan Petz also returns as a junior this fall. Brendan lost only one singles match in 2012 and showed that he was more than capable of winning when given the chance to compete in the line-up. Brendan will be given that chance once again and is expected to challenge for the #6 spot in singles and #3 spot in doubles. Fran Huber is also returning for his junior year. Like Brendan, Fran has shown that he has the talents to win in singles when he is in the line-up. Fran will compete this year for a singles position and coach Hendrick is confident that if he can earn this spot, he will be successful. Andrew Jary will be a senior this fall and will bring his big serve and quick hands back to the court for a fourth year. Andrew should once again challenge for a spot in the doubles line-up.
Coach Hendrick is very excited about the newcomers to this year’s team. This list includes Kristoff Saari, Andy Struble and Frankie Fischer. Saari comes to Aquinas from Rochester Adams High School where he was an All-State performer at #1 singles. Kristoff is a 3-Star recruit and has been ranked as high as #38 in the Midwest section of the USTA. Kristoff had an impressive summer of tennis prior to arriving at Aquinas which included five singles wins at the Midwest Closed and a semi-final in doubles in the ITA College event held in Bloomington Indiana. Andy Struble comes to Aquinas from Okemos High School where he went 28-5 at #1 singles and was also an all-state performer. Andy reached the semi-finals in the Michigan High school D-2 state championship, has been ranked among the top 100 in the USTA Midwest (boys 18s) and was a 3-Star recruit. Frankie Fischer joins the Saints as the team’s first recruit from the state of Texas. Frankie has been ranked as high as #56 in his USTA section and has earned a 2-Star rating while competing in the tough Super Champs level in his home state.
Overall, expectations at Aquinas are very high for another especially successful season of tennis. This year's team should once again contend for the unofficial city championship. The 2013 squad should also be a favorite to win the WHAC and Region 8 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 that includes three D-1 teams, a nationally ranked D-2 team and small college powers Kalamazoo College and Olivet Nazarene University, the Saints are looking forward to a challenging but successful 2013.