Hopes are high for the men to continue the success of last season
Courtesy: Mike Kennedy, Denver Athletics
Hopes are high for the men to continue the success of last season
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DU Men's Tennis Primed to Build on Success in 2013-14
Courtesy: Denver Athletics  
Release: 09/27/2013

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DENVER – The University of Denver Men’s tennis team has high expectations going into the 2013-14 season.

Last season was one for the books for DU men’s tennis program. The team finished its 2012-13 run with a 12-12 overall record and battled through injuries and a nine-match losing streak before going unbeaten (5-0) in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) regular season play. Denver went on to win the WAC championship and qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010. At the NCAA tournament, the Pioneers stunned the No. 15 Florida Gators with a 4-3 comeback victory, but fell to California 4-1 in the second round.

Head coach Danny Westerman has faith that his players will do well again in 2013-14 and has scheduled a season that reflects that confidence.

“We set a tough schedule every year,” Westerman said. “We want to give ourselves the best opportunity to get the best ranking we can, so we play a lot of highly ranked teams.”

The Pioneers begin the season with the high profile ITA All-America Championships in Tulsa, Okla. on Saturday, September 28. This is an open event and the top 50 players in the country are in the main draw. DU will send Alex Clinkenbeard (Loveland, Colo.), Henry Craig (Murrieta, Calif.), Alex Gasson (Alton, United Kingdom), Aidan Talcott (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) and Eric Marbach (Naperville, Ill.) and it will be the first time at this tournament for any of these Pioneers.

 “We did something different this year for the ITA All- America Championships-- we usually only send a couple guys to this tournament, but we decided that this would be a great opportunity for our freshmen to see what the best in college tennis are doing,” Westerman said. “I do feel like all of our guys have a legitimate shot to win several rounds and I’m excited to see how things shake out this weekend.”

After its opening event, Denver men’s tennis stays on the road through the fall of 2013, traveling to Las Vegas, Nev., Minneapolis, Minn. and Flushing, N.Y.

Early in 2014, the Pioneers come up against some tough competition as they head to Columbus, Ohio on January 25 to battle Ohio State. Denver hosts its first meet on Friday January 31 against Air Force Academy. The rest of 2014 is pretty evenly divided between home and travel meets for the Pioneers. And the DU men, like the women, host the Summit League Championships in the spring of 2014.

Though Westerman’s team is young, with five freshmen, he has high hopes for his players, both old and new.

“Four of the five freshmen have had extensive experience on the junior circuits,” Westerman said. “Our two American players, Marbach and Talcott, they’ve played all the junior events throughout their lives. They’ve been around great junior coaches and already have a professional mindset.”

Westerman also spoke highly of the two newest Pioneers coming from overseas.

“The international freshmen, Alex Gasson and Diogo Rocha, they have played a lot of international tournaments,” he said. “Gasson was a British national champion in doubles and has done very well in singles. Diogo was in the top 100-120 in the world in juniors. So those guys have a tremendous amount of experience as well.”

But it is Denver’s seniors, according to Westerman, that will carry this young team through to another conference championship this season.

“I have a lot of faith in our seniors, Alex and Fabio, as leaders of this team. They have been on our team when we had a lot of issues, when we had injuries, when we didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament,” Westerman said. “We kind of underachieved a few years back and so they know what it feels like to be on the losing side of things. And obviously after last year, they know what it feels like to have the best moment in program history. So they’re going do everything in their power to get us back to that point again.”



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