The Valparaiso University men’s tennis team will feature a new look as the Crusaders open the 2007 fall season. Head coach Jim Daugherty, in his 23rd year at the helm of the Brown and Gold, looks to replace three players that graduated at the end of last season, all of whom were regulars in the top-five of the Crusader lineup last year.
Daugherty will have to rely on a trio of seniors, as well as returning Second Team All Mid-Continent Conference selection Alex Lau to help guide Valpo into the fall tournament season. Lau posted an 18-13 record overall, including a 4-1 league mark last year, playing mainly fourth singles for the Crusaders.
Seniors Mike Shideler and Mike Wagner were both mainstays in the Brown and Gold’s lineup last year. Both have posted more than 30 career singles victories throughout their first three season with the Crusaders, and will be relied upon to move up in the lineup this year. The third senior, Dan Brunette, also will look to make an impact in his final year after seeing limited action as a junior. He, along with Lau, is over .500 for his career in singles play, and hopes to continue to post wins this fall.
Sophomore Tom Litscher saw a little action in his first season as a collegiate player during the 2006-2007 year. He had a strong opening fall, winning five out of seven singles contests during one span.
Daugherty will also be enlisting the services of three freshmen, each of whom will get their first taste of college tennis in the fall events. Danny Lewallen, Phidias Fortune, and Kyle Stump will all try to make an impact from the beginning. With strong showings this fall, they could end up a vital part of the Crusader lineup in the spring.
Valpo will play in a pair of tournaments this fall beginning with the Bradley Invitational on September 21 and 22. The Crusaders will host their annual Fall Classic at the Valpo Tennis Complex the following weekend before the Brown and Gold hosts their annual alumni exhibition tournament over Homecoming weekend. The fall season will come to an end with several Crusaders participating in the ITA Midwest Regional Championships.
The upcoming fall season will be a chance for Valpo to see what the youthful nature of the team will have in store for the new year as the Crusaders begin Horizon League play for the first time this spring. With four upperclassmen as well as three freshmen, competition will be fierce among the squad.