YORK, PA - The York College men’s tennis
team gears up for the 2009 campaign with hopes of becoming
recognized as one of the top teams in the region. The Spartans
posted their first 15-win mark during the 2008 season under the
direction of head coach Mark Ludwig.
“We want to keep moving forward,” Ludwig said as he enters his tenth season at the helm of the men’s tennis program. “The progress we have made in the past few seasons has been phenomenal but we want to continue to improve and take it to the next level.”
Equipped with talent, experience, and leadership, the Spartans return eight players from last year’s 15-5 season. Headlining this solid group of returners is 2008 first-team All-CAC selection, Tim Mowrer. The senior returns slotted as the Spartans #1 singles player where he has spent a majority of his career. In addition to his All-CAC honor last year, Mowrer received top-25 accolades from itatennis.com in the Atlantic-South Region.
“Mowrer is a great athlete with tremendous court intelligence,” Ludwig said of his senior stand-out. “His ability to play at an extremely high level consistently has made him one of the best singles players in York history and has given him regional recognition.”
Junior Paul Graci returns as the Spartans #2 singles player after posting 15 wins en route to his second-team All-CAC selection. With a season of quality success under his belt, Graci is primed to push Mowrer for York’s first slot throughout the 2009 campaign.
“Graci rapidly improved at the top of the lineup with a great 2008,” Ludwig raved. “The ability he brings to the court is exceptional. I expect him to continue to develop at the top of our lineup and post big wins for us in 2009.”
Senior Joel Trimmer and junior Steve Collison, after breakout 2008 seasons, will be among the Spartan’s top singles players. Trimmer, who spent most of his time as York’s #3, tallied a career-high 14 singles win last year and will look to improve on that number in 2009. Collison ended 2008, his first full season in the Spartan lineup, with 13 wins from the #4 position. A full off-season of practice and conditioning, in addition to his success last year, gives the junior a great opportunity in 2009.
“Trimmer, who is not only a senior but our team captain, provides us with great on-court leadership as well as intense competitiveness,” Ludwig said. “Collison, with his power and consistency, had a fantastic year last season and should provide us with excellent play again this year.”
Rounding out the #5 and #6 singles positions will be Jeff Mansfield and sophomore Travis Klein. Mansfield, a senior, will be suiting up for the last time looking to cap off a solid career. Klein returns to the Spartans looking to be a mainstay in the singles lineup after a year of adjustment as a rookie.
“Mansfield is another powerful player in our lineup who can produce quality wins for us,” Ludwig said. “Klein’s patience and consistency are really going to help him this year as he should get significant court time.”
Patrick McKee and Colin Jones, both York natives, will vie for time in the lineup while adding depth and leadership to the York squad. Wearing the green and white for the first time in 2009 are sophomores Ryan Harvey and Justin Hostetter along with freshman James Villiari.
“McKee and Jones both have solid strokes and are continuing to improve in both match play and consistency as they each look to take it to the next level,” Ludwig said. “The new guys have adjusted nicely to our team and we are looking for their continued growth and experience,”
In doubles play, the Spartans will combine several players throughout the first few weeks of camp in an effort to give the Green and White the best possible pairs. Last year, Mowrer and Trimmer formed the #2 doubles group and their 13-4 mark allotted them a slot on the All-CAC second-team. In 2009, the pair will split as Ludwig looks for strength not only at the top but also throughout the doubles lineup. Along with Mowrer and Trimmer, a handful of Spartans will be competing for the starting positions in the doubles lineup including Graci, Collison, Mansfield, and Jones.
“Mowrer and Trimmer performed very well together last year, but we are going to shake things up a bit heading into this year,” Ludwig said. “We have several players who can perform well in doubles play and we want to take advantage of their abilities. It will be very interesting how this all plays out.”
With loads of talent and experience, the Green and White will look to continue their ascent up the regional ladder, a developing trend in the Spartan program. To do that, York will contend with some of the best teams and talent in the nation, including perennial powerhouse Mary Washington and the traditionally-strong Salisbury, both of which are Capital Athletic Conference foes. Out of conference, the Spartans are set to face Methodist, Messiah, and Kutztown who will each pose significant tests for the Green and White.
“I believe we have a lot of the pieces in place to be very successful this season,” Ludwig commented. “We have unprecedented strength at the top of our lineup and quality depth throughout as we look to become one of the region’s best. The schedule we will be up against this year suits us in our quest to become one of those top teams. It will be a challenge, but I believe we are up for that challenge.”
The Spartans kick off their 2009 slate with a trip to Hilton Head, S.C. The Green and White open up against Grand Rapids Community College on Sunday, March 1, at 12:00 pm.
Photo of 2008 All-CAC first-team senior Tim Mowrer
The 2009 Men's Tennis preview was written by Paul Graci - York College Sports Information Student Intern