After a solid spring season which saw the Valparaiso Crusaders finish runner-up in the Mid-Continent Conference, the Brown and Gold are set to take the courts this fall in various tournament competitions.
Head coach Jim Daugherty returns seven players from last year's squad which finished with a winning mark (11-10) for the first time in more than over a decade.
The top of the Crusader lineup boasts a pair of seniors which have had stellar careers with the Brown and Gold. Nic Kooyers won 20 singles matches at the top of the order for Valpo last year and was named the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Year. Classmate Joe Venegas was a First Team All Mid-Con selection as well and finished the spring on a high note, winning 11 of his final 15 singles matches.
Juniors Mike Shideler and Mike Wagner are back from the middle of the Crusader lineup where they both had solid sophomore campaigns. Wagner was a Second Team All-Conference selection while Shideler also played first doubles with Kooyers most of the season.
Senior David Bukowski and sophomore Alex Lau rounded out the lineup last fall for the Crusaders and their return gives Valpo an entire starting lineup of returnees back for 2006-2007. Bukowski finished the year near .500 in singles play while Lau was 13-13 overall in singles action and 12-12 in doubles play as a rookie.
In addition, Daugherty has brought in one freshman, Tom Litscher, who will look to break into the lineup for Valpo beginning this fall.
Valpo will compete in three fall events in addition to an exhibition tournament beginning this weekend when the Crusaders head to the Ball State Fall Invitational. The Brown and Gold will then head to the Bradley Invitational the following weekend before hosting the Alumni Tournament on Homecoming weekend. The fall season will conclude for most of the team as the Crusaders host the first Valpo Fall Classic October 6 and 7 at the Valparaiso University Tennis Complex. Select players may compete at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships to round out the fall in late October.
With all of the talent back for Valpo, Daugherty will look for continued improvement this fall with the sights being set on another outstanding spring season just a few months down the line.