STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A mix of the old and the new brought the Franciscan University men’s tennis team to a 2012 season of multiple successes. With three new members joining the five returning sophomores—as well as a new head coach—the Barons made a smooth transition into becoming a team ready to win.
“The team chemistry was there at the beginning and continued to get stronger,” noted head coach Jeremy Ellis. “They are a great group of guys. They will do just as well in life as they have done on the tennis court.”
In only its third year of varsity competition, the tennis team continued its winning tradition, attaining an undefeated regular season record in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. The Barons finished 8-0 in the AMCC and 12-3 overall.
At one point the Barons held a nine-match winning streak.
“I thought the season went really well,” Ellis said. “It is an extremely fast season with a lot of unpredictable factors. The guys did so well and many of them had to play up (in seeding) because of injury and scheduling.”
At the AMCC championship the team placed second to Penn State Behrend, its fourth title in five years. However, during the regular season, Franciscan was the only AMCC team to defeat Behrend.
In the 2011 championship, Franciscan defeated Behrend in a tiebreaker to take the AMCC title.
“Our success is not about wining or losing, but how well we carried the most precious name of Christ in our wins and our loses,” Ellis said “If we keep using our gifts and talents to glorify Christ we will succeed. If at any moment we glorify the gifts and not Christ, we have failed.”
The success of the season did not go unnoticed by the AMCC. Although Leonel Lacayo battled an injury much of the season, he earned Player of the Year for his excellent performance as No. 1 singles seed.
“Leonel winning player of the year was a great way for him to end this season.” said Ellis. “He was out for many of the matches because of an injury, but always stepped up to the toughest opponents.”
Lacayo, Brian Robau, and John Bruce earned first team all-conference recognition for their successful singles play. Robau earned AMCC Player of the Week once during the season and went undefeated in the conference at No. 3 singles. Robau also won the No. 3 singles champion title at the AMCC championship.
Doubles team Lacayo and Luke Merry received first team all-conference honors and placed first in the AMCC No. 2 doubles championship round.
Paul Jarzynka, Luke Merry, and John Shultis all received second team all-conference honors. Jarzynka had an undefeated regular season in conference play at No. 2 singles.
Doubles team Jarzynka and Robau also earned second team all-conference honors.
Although many of the team members were recognized for their outstanding individual performances by the AMCC, Coach Ellis noted that all of the players performed at player of week status at one point or another during the season.
“Tennis is not the end, tennis is just another means to help prepare you for such a story within the story," he added.
With the whole team returning next season, the Barons have already begun preparing for an even stronger 2013 season.
“I am even more excited for next year,” said Ellis. “I feel like we are building a wonderful program here at Franciscan that doesn't just foster great tennis but great men. Keep your eye open for next year, the Barons will bounce back to claim the AMCC title.”