STEUBENVILLE, Ohio— The No. 1 Barons head to Florida Monday morning for a week of preseason preparation as they look to defend their 2011 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference title this season. The Franciscan University tennis team hopes to capitalize upon the strong foundation it's built over the past two years.
"There is always pressure when defending your title," said head coach Jeremy Ellis, "but the best attribute of the group of guys we have is that they always rise to the occasion."
This is Ellis's first season as Baron Tennis head coach. He takes the place of former head coach and 2011 AMCC Coach of the Year Curtis Allen.
Coach Ellis noted that the team is very well-rounded with all of the players contributing their own special strengths. And with the exception of one newcomer, the roster is full of returners.
Ranked No. 1 in the championship No. 2 flight, Jarzynka defeated Penn State Altoona's Steven Dull (No. 2), 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, to go on and earn Newcomer of the Year for his performance.
Robau (No. 1) also won in the No. 3 singles flight, and Merry (No. 2) continued the trend in the No. 4 singles flight spot. Both defeated Altoona players.
Jarzynka and Robau finished last year's championship as doubles runner-up to Penn State Behrend's powerhouse team Elliot Blackstone and Chris Galvin. As No. 1 doubles team in the second doubles flight, Lacayo and Merry defeated Behrend's No. 2, 8-5.
The Barons tied Altoona at the AMCC championship, 18-18, and ultimately defeated the Lions through a 4-3 flight advantage.
"My hopes for this season are to see God glorified on and off the court, to win the conference, play in NCAA regional tournament, and to grow closer together as a team in love with Christ," said Ellis.
Franciscan takes on the AMCC's 2011 No. 4 team, D'Youville College, on Saturday, March 10 on the Spartans' home court beginning at noon.