An experienced Valparaiso University men’s tennis team takes to the court this fall in several tournaments as a tune-up for the spring championship season. Head coach Jim Daugherty returns seven letterwinners and has added a freshman to a team that won nine matches in 2010-2011.
Daugherty, who begins his 27th season at the helm of the Brown and Gold, has a senior-laden team. Three fifth-year players are on the roster in addition to a pair of true seniors and a redshirt-junior in his fourth year as a collegian.
All three fifth-year seniors transferred to Valpo early in their career, and will provide great leadership this season. Michael Woodson won 10 singles matches a year ago, playing mostly at the fifth and sixth spots in the lineup. He was a perfect 3-0 at number five singles, and also posted a winning doubles mark on the year.
Siddarth Mehta registered a 9-4 singles record in 2010-2011, the most singles wins he has recorded as a Crusader. He will look to carry that momentum into his final year with the Brown and Gold. Mehta’s high school classmate, Carlton Lyons, also transferred into Valpo and has posted a winning career singles mark as well as a .500 doubles record.
True senior Kevin DeHerrera enters his final campaign on the heels of 15 singles triumphs and 13 doubles wins one year ago. Playing mainly at the third spot a year ago in both singles and doubles, DeHerrera looks to add to his 36 career singles wins and 31 career doubles victories in his final year at Valpo.
DeHerrera’s classmate, Adam Whitmer, also returns for one final season. Whitmer has played as high as number one singles for the Crusaders during his career, giving the team a great deal of experience at the top end of the lineup. As a freshman he won a career-high 16 matches and has built on that victory total ever since. Last year in doubles action, the senior posted a 14-14 record and enters his final season with 30 career doubles wins.
Redshirt-junior Chris Baum won 14 matches playing mostly at second singles for the Crusaders in 2010-2011 and has totaled 23 victories in his two years at Valpo. Baum also split time between first and second doubles, and will look to continue to add strength at the top end of the Brown and Gold’s order in 2011-2012.
Eric Honert had a solid rookie season for the Crusaders one year ago, posting a team-high 16 singles wins. Playing mostly fourth and fifth singles, he climbed to as high as third in the Valpo lineup during the season. He also tallied 12 doubles triumphs in his first season, playing mainly at the top of the order. With one year of collegiate tennis under his belt, Honert looks for an even better sophomore season.
The lone freshman on this year’s roster is Egan Hart. Hart was a four-time All-Triangle Independent School Athletic Conference selection for Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, N.C., the same school attended by his teammate Woodson. Hart posted a 60-30 career singles mark and a 60-29 doubles record during high school, and looks to carry that same winning play over to the courts at Valpo.
The Crusaders will face a light schedule this fall beginning Sept. 16-18 at the Bradley Invitational. One week later, Valpo heads to the Wright State/Dayton Invitational for the second straight year. An exhibition event with Brown and Gold alumni will take place on Oct. 1 as part of Homecoming before the fall slate comes to an end Oct. 13-16 at the ITA Regional Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
With the wealth of returning players on the roster this season, optimism abounds on the Crusader tennis courts. With the senior leadership needed for successful programs, Valpo looks to field one of its best teams in years and the fall season should provide a solid basis heading into the spring.