The GW men’s and women’s tennis teams had similar results in last year’s Atlantic 10 Tournament, finishing in sixth and fifth place, respectively. This year, the only similarity between the two teams is that they both want to improve upon those finishes. To achieve that success, however, will require very different blueprints.
The men’s team is coming into this season with high expectations because its top players are all returning. Senior Matt Hane and junior Matt Treadgold will be the team leaders, both having earned all-conference honors last year. Hane boasted the best all-around record in the A-10 in 2003 and was named the conference’s Most Outstanding Player in 2002.
“We’re expecting great things from him,” head coach Tom Hawkins said. “Matt was 18-3 last year, 16-3 the year before. He’s playing better this year than he ever has and he was great during the break … I would be surprised if he lost three matches this year.”
Hawkins cited the team’s other senior, Brett Warner, and junior Jake Jopling as two players who could have a breakout year among GW’s other eight players. Overall, the team has two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen, and quality extends throughout the lineup.
“We’ve got depth this year,” Hawkins said, “Ten guys that can play.”
To be successful, this team will have to prove that they can win on the road, as the Colonials only have four home matches this year because of the continuing problems at the Mount Vernon courts. If they can handle the travel, the men could challenge such perennial A-10 contenders as Richmond, St. Bonaventure and Xavier.
“We’ve been competitive with them,” Hane said. “It’s been down to the last match with them the last couple of years.”
For the women’s team, the goal is playing closer to its fifth place A-10 Tournament result than its 10th place regular season finish last year. But few faces remain from last year’s team, the most notable departure being coach Helen Andrews, who resigned.
Also gone from last year’s eight-member team are three graduated seniors, including Tracy Wei, an all-conference player in 2003. Leading the team this year will be senior co-captains Nazli Gencsoy and Lindy First and juniors Natasha Bode and Sevla Gonca, the team’s only returning players. But Gencsoy, the team’s top singles player, suffered an injury recently and will be out until March.
Taking Andrews’ place is Megan Wise, a former University of Connecticut assistant who will be a college head coach for the first time. Wise said she believes that despite all of the new faces, the Colonials can avoid struggling through a rebuilding year.
“Once we have everyone healthy, we should have a solid season. I think they’re pretty much capable of doing anything, especially when we have a full lineup. We’ll compete for the A-10 championship,” she said.
First echoed her coach’s optimism.
“I think that it’s a year of transition,” she said. “We lost one player but we got a couple more. I see us doing a lot better than last year.”