The 2012 spring tennis season opens for Valparaiso University with the Crusaders looking to move up the ranks in the Horizon League. Head coach Jim Daugherty returns for his 27th season at the helm of the Brown and Gold and has a roster loaded with seniors on it this year.
Valpo looks to better last year’s 9-13 overall record which saw the Crusaders go winless in the Horizon League to finish in eighth place. The Brown and Gold enters this year with the goal of returning to the conference tournament for the first time since 2010.
The Valpo lineup will see redshirt-junior Chris Baum battling with sophomore Eric Honert for a spot at the top of the order. Both were impressive during the fall slate, winning a team-high six singles matches each. Baum has already won 29 singles contests during his career with the Brown and Gold, playing mostly second singles last year. Honert went 16-13 as a rookie, moving up from fifth singles to third by the end of last year.
Seniors Kevin DeHerrera and Adam Whitmer also have the potential to play at or near the top of the Valpo lineup. DeHerrera is the Crusaders’ active leader with 36 career singles wins and has also posted 33 doubles triumphs during his first three plus years at Valpo. He played third singles most of last year, a spot he looks to solidify again this season. Whitmer has played as high as number one singles during his career with the Brown and Gold but saw action last year mostly at the fourth and fifth spots. He shared the team lead in doubles this fall with Baum winning four contests.
The bottom spots of the Valpo lineup are up for grabs as the 2012 season unfolds. Fifth-year seniors Michael Woodson, Siddarth Mehta, and Carlton Lyons will battle with freshman Egan Hart for the final two spots.
Woodson had a solid fall posting a 4-4 mark after playing well towards the end of last spring. He won 10 matches one year ago and looks to conclude his career on a high note. Mehta went 9-4 in 2010-2011 and will look for a greater opportunity to showcase his skills this year. Lyons also finished last season over .500 in singles play. Hart got his first taste of collegiate tennis this past fall, winning four singles matches.
The year kicks off on Saturday (Jan. 28) when the Crusaders head to Muncie, Ind. to battle Ball State in the first of 22 dual matches on the schedule this season. The home opener indoors will take place two weeks later when Grace visits Matchpoint Tennis Club. Valpo will also take to the road for matches at Dayton, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan while also battling IUPUI.
The annual spring trip to Florida will see the Crusaders play five matches in five days before returning home to battle in state rival Butler in the Horizon League opener. Valpo will close the season with five straight home contests as well at the Valpo Tennis Complex, concluding with a match with UIC on April 21.
With the abundance of seniors on this year’s roster, Valpo is poised to make a run in the Horizon League this year. If all goes according to plan, the Crusaders will return to the Horizon League Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. April 27-29.