Men’s and women’s tennis look to continue dynasty

Once again, the Wilkes University men’s and women’s teams have been selected to finish first in the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom coaches’ preseason poll. The women have won the last nine titles and look to make it 10 straight this season, while the men have won eight straight titles and will look to make it nine.

Men’s and women’s head coach Chris Leicht enters his 14th season as head coach for the Colonels. He has coached both the men’s and women’s teams for 13 years.

The eight-time conference Coach of the Year is excited for this upcoming season.

“We treat every year as a new year. We are very proud of our recent success, but we know we need to keep working hard. Also, every team wants to beat us now, so we have to play our best each and every match,” said Leicht, talking about the teams’ recent success.

When asked about how he keeps the teams motivated he added, “We are striving to not only be the best team in the conference, but to be one of the best in the region and on the national scene.”

Coaching both the men’s and women’s team can be a challenge, but Leicht has it down to a science. Junior tennis player Alanna Denauski had nothing but great things to say about her head coach.

“He’s a great coach and he motivates us to do our best on and off the court,” said Denauski. 

“One thing that makes this program so special and successful is the amazing relationship between the men’s and women’s teams,” Leicht said. “Our team is very close and often practices and travels together to a lot of matches. Our captains plan a lot of fun events off the court, and it helps in bringing our team closer. The annual spring break tennis trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is a great time for our teams to become very close.”

Denauski, like many others other players on the team, is excited to go down to Hilton Head.

“We play some competitive teams and it will be a great way to kick off the season. It’s a fun time as we get to bond as a team and get to know each other better.”

“No matter what happens, we are a team on and off the court and always strive to keep our family-like connection strong in and out of season,” said junior captain Madison Salmon. Salmon was named captain of the women’s team along with Olivia Hewison and Taylor Hoffmann.

For the men’s team Collin, Strunk and Michael Kranz were selected captains by their teammates. “Their leadership and dedication to the team has really been a major reason for our success,” Leicht said.

The men’s and women’s team have three and four freshmen respectively. For the men,  Jaycen Murphy will play the No. 1 position.  He went undefeated in the fall, with a perfect 9-0 record.  He also captured the MAC men’s individual title at the top spot.

For the women, Jordan Vasarkovy, Erin Volutza, and Grace Graham will all contribute to the team right away.  Jordan went 9-0 in singles (and the No. 2 and No. 3 positions).  She also won MAC Individual titles at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles.

Erin went 9-1 in singles, and also won a MAC title at the No. 5 spot.  Grace went 8-1 in singles overall.

The Colonels spring break trip begins March 5 and they return back to Wilkes the 13.  They will then travel to Bloomsburg the 16 and look to continue their success.

Adam Lefkandinos delivers the tennis ball to his teammate during a practice.
Adam Lefkandinos delivers the tennis ball to his teammate during a practice.