The men’s tennis program is quietly becoming a force on
the regional tennis scene. After a 13-4 record in 2006 and an 8-5
mark the following season, the 2008 Spartans cracked the 15-win
plateau going 15-5 in team play.
“I am so proud of our guys for what they accomplished this year,” Head Coach Mark Ludwig said. “They all really stepped it up this season and put together a very strong record.”
After an opening match stumble, the green and white rattled off eight straight victories, sweeping six of those matches 9-0. After a loss to perennial powerhouse Mary Washington, the Spartans would be victorious in six of their last eight regular season matches.
“We had good results in the regular season,” Ludwig said. “We took many matches by a 9-0 score line and came away with several strong wins.”
In the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, the green and white railed Wesley 9-0, before again running into the steamroller that is Mary Washington tennis.
“Of course we would have liked to have gone farther in CACs but that just did not happen this year,” Ludwig said. “Mary Washington is very, very good but we aspire to at their level someday soon.”
One of the highlights of the season came oddly enough in a team loss to Salisbury on April 2. Tim Mowrer (Gordonville, Pa./Pequea Valley), the Spartans’ top singles player, bested the Sea Gulls’ Brendan Kincaid 6-4, 6-4. At the time, Kincaid was ranked #13 in the Division III Atlantic South Region according to itatennis.com. The win propelled Mowrer, who was 16-4 on the year, into the region’s top-25 for the first time in his career while the #25 individual ranking was a first in program history. Mowrer, who posted a 16-4 singles record, earned first-team All-CAC honors for his performance in singles, while he teamed up with Joel Trimmer (Hanover, Pa./Hanover) to earned second-team accolades in doubles.
“Tim is an outstanding tennis player,” Ludwig said. “He combines great athleticism with a great mind for the game. He is definitely one of the top players in the conference.”
Sophomore Paul Graci (Exton, Pa./Bishop Shanahan) emerged in 2008 as one of the best players in the Spartan line up. Playing mostly as York’s #2 singles player, Graci posted a 15-4 mark en route to second-team All-CAC honors.
“Paul played extremely well this year,” Ludwig said. “He showed tremendous improvement this season and proved that he can play at a high level and get the job done. I am excited that we still have him for two more seasons.”
Five Spartans posted double-digits in singles victories for the season. Mowrer, Graci, Trimmer with 14, Steve Collison (Westville, N.J./Woodbury) with 13, and Ron Ho (Frederick, Md./Frederick) with 12, as the group was a combined 70-21.
“Joel, Steve, and Ron added a great deal of positives to our team play this season,” Ludwig said. “They were each strong players for us and won solid matches.”
In doubles play, Ho and junior Ryan Fickes (York, Pa./Dallastown) combined to form York’s top doubles pair. The duo proved to be a legitimate contender with the conference’s best doubles pairs. Mowrer and Trimmer teamed for a 13-4 mark at second doubles while the duo of Braxton Koppelman (Alexandria, Va./Annandale) and Josh Kulp (Souderton, Pa./Homeschooled) went 12-4 for the year.
“We are continuing to grow in our doubles play,” Ludwig said, “With the performances that we had from a variety of players, I think we could be very good in the near future.
With such stalwarts as Mowrer, Graci, Trimmer, Collison, Fickes and Kulp returning next season to go along with Jeff Mansfield (Bartonsville, Pa./North Harford), Patrick McKee (York, Pa./York Catholic), Colin Jones (Felton, Pa./Red Lion), and Travis Klein (East Stroudsburg, Pa./Pocono Mountain East), the Spartans will be loaded with talent and experience as they look to crack into the upper echelon of CAC tennis.
“We are close,” Ludwig said. “As long as each of the guys put in the work over the off season and we build off the experience this year, I see no reason why we cannot be even better in 2009.”
Ron Ho and Ryan Fickes photo courtesy of Scott Guise