TENNIS: Wilkes aims for continued dominance on the court

Kevin Singhel, Asst. Sports Editor

It gets lonely at the top, especially if you dominate for as long as Wilkes’ tennis programs have. 

Wilkes men’s and women’s tennis programs have experienced unprecedented success in recent years. The women’s team has amassed 13 consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom championships, while the men’s program is not far behind with their 12 consecutive MAC Freedom championships. 

It has been complete domination for Wilkes tennis during their streaks, as each program has had a dozen or more consecutive seasons with at least 15 wins. 

The men’s program has not dropped a single conference game since April 2009. 

Astonishingly, the women’s programs last conference loss came 15 years ago during the 2004 season. The most common birth year for this year’s incoming freshman class is 2001, meaning the majority of Wilkes’ freshmen were only 3-years-old the last time the women dropped a conference match. This is an almost unheard of level of success and domination, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon. 

Wilkes’ success on the tennis courts extends far beyond conference play, as the program has frequently experienced success in the NCAA tournament, winning several first round matchups throughout the years before falling to ranked opponents in later rounds. Both programs have also found themselves regionally ranked in recent years, shining a spotlight on just how talented the tennis programs have found themselves to be.

They have not only experienced success as a team, but have also garnered a massive amount of individual awards as well. The program seems to constantly produce award winners, as several players have won MAC Freedom Player of the Year, MAC Freedom Player of the Week, and the MAC Freedom Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. 

Last year’s seniors Courtney Murphy and Jordan Vasarkovy capped off impressive college careers by winning the MAC Freedom Player of the Year four times in a row and three times in a row, respectively. In addition, a staggering amount of Wilkes’ players have been named to the MAC Freedom All-Conference teams in recent years, on both the men’s and women’s side.

The Colonels’ tennis programs received a bit of a shakeup prior to the season last year, as long-time head coach Chris Leicht announced that he would be taking a position at Division I Monmouth University. 

However, the program never missed a beat thanks to new head coach Victor Terranova, who brought a wealth of coaching knowledge and experience with him to Wilkes. 

allowing the programs to continue their winning ways. 

One of the biggest standouts about the two programs is the positive culture and attitude that has grown throughout the years. 

“We always push each other to be better,” said senior Dana Saliyev. “Every single day, I notice how everybody always goes out and works and has fun too.”

Senior Alec Levin also commented on the team’s culture.

“Our team is really close,” stated Levin. “We practice together, we eat together, do school work together and study together. Being so close helps us a lot, especially when it comes to doubles where you really need to know your partner.”

Terranova echoed these sentiments, highlightig the team’s commradery. 

“We’re really lucky to have a team that genuinely cares about each other as human beings and are genuinely friends off the court, where everyone wants nothing but the best for each other. Having that is really unique in the world of college athletics and allows them to bring out the best in each other,” said Terranova.

This year, Terranova notes that there is an added emphasis on conference play with the introduction of Stevens Institute of Technology into the MAC Freedom.

“We have to take the conference seriously, especially with Stevens coming into the conference, being #31 in the country for the men. If we don’t take the conference seriously, then we will never be able to achieve our program goals,” said Terranova.

Despite the added pressure of Stevens in the conference, the tennis program has emphasised that their game plan is going to stay the same and they are going to continue working together.

“We never take anybody for granted,” added Saliyev. “We work hard no matter who we play and treat every single match the same.”

“Every single day we just go to practice knowing we need to get better,” echoed Levin. “No matter where we are, we always need to improve and get better, and I think that’s true with a lot of things in life.”

This attitude and culture has led to some great results for the two programs. Both teams will look to continue adding to the record books during the 2019-2020 year. They want to keep their streaks of dominance alive, and will look to defend their crowns once again this year.