Optimism is high for Valparaiso’s men’s tennis team as the Crusaders open the fall season. Head coach Jim Daugherty returns seven players from last year’s program, while gaining the services of a transfer and adding a freshman to the roster for the upcoming season.
Daugherty, who enters his 26th year at the helm of the Brown and Gold, has to be encouraged with the talent on the roster for this season.
Kyle Stump returns for his final season with the Crusaders after playing all over the lineup throughout his career. The only four-year player for Valpo on the roster this season, Stump mainly played at the top two spots in the order as a junior. He enters his senior campaign with 24 career wins in both singles and doubles.
The Crusaders also gain the services of fifth-year senior Jose Gaspar for 2010-2011. Gaspar came to Valpo before last season from the University of New Orleans where he went 14-6 for the Privateers, including an 11-1 mark at number five singles as a junior. Per NCAA transfer rules though, Gaspar had to sit out last season, but should make a significant impact on the roster this season.
Three redshirt juniors also add to Valpo’s depth and experience. Siddarth Mehta saw action at the fifth and sixth spots in the lineup last season, his first with the Crusaders. Carlton Lyons and Michael Woodson also saw a little action on the courts for the Brown and Gold a year ago, and will look to make even more of an impact this year. Woodson was playing his first season of NCAA tennis one year ago.
A pair of true juniors played key roles on Valpo’s team a year ago, and return for year three. Kevin DeHerrera led Valpo with 11 singles victories, playing mainly at the fifth and sixth spots in the singles lineup. He also matched classmate Adam Whitmer for the most doubles wins in 2009-2010. Whitmer mainly played at the top of the order for the Brown and Gold last season while also seeing a little time at number two singles.
Redshirt sophomore Chris Baum was a key addition to the roster last season after transferring from North Carolina State, and posted nine victories in his first season of collegiate tennis. Baum started the season at number five singles, but by year’s end, had moved himself all the way to the top of the Valpo lineup. He will be called upon again this season for more of the same success.
The lone freshman on this year’s roster is Eric Honart. A native of Arvada, Colo., Honart placed in the state championships from 2007-2009 in Colorado for Ralston Valley High School. He was also a four-time All-Jefferson County Conference selection, including earning First Team accolades on three different occasions. Honart will look to contend for a spot in the lineup during his rookie season with the Crusaders.
Valpo’s fall schedule, as is usually the case, is a challenging one. The Crusaders open Sept. 17-19 in West Lafayette, Ind. with the Purdue Invitational. After hosting the annual Alumni Tournament during Homecoming weekend, the Brown and Gold will host the Valparaiso Fall Invitational October 1-2 at the Valpo Tennis Complex. The Dayton/Wright State Invitational follows a week later before the fall slate concludes with the ITA Regional Tournament hosted this year by Notre Dame.