BY NICK NELSON
Battling scorching heat and intense competition, the University of Mary Washington men’s tennis team opened the season with a two day invitational tournament last weekend.
The Eagles are returning with every player from last year’s team in addition to three newcomers: freshmen Rob Emig, Kaz Murata and Bryce Parrish.
Against a range of Division I schools including the University of Richmond, Liberty University, Longwood University and George Mason University, the Eagles finished 9-9 overall in doubles and 9-8 overall in singles play.
The younger players came out strong, highlighted by a 3-0 singles performance by Emig and sophomores Eric Sundstrom and Zach Sasser.
Despite battling sickness, junior Jason Dunn was able to pull off a win against Richmond, finishing 1-2 overall.
Dunn spoke highly of the team’s efforts.
“We did really well in the tournament,” he said. “We were 22-14 overall, and the freshmen all looked great. The matches that we lost were really close. We went up against all Division I teams, so it was great that we were able to compete at every position.”
The Eagles performed well in doubles competition as well, with Murata and sophomore Evan Goff finishing 2-1 thanks to wins over Longwood and George Mason.
Emig and Sundstrom also finished 2-1, topping George Mason and Liberty in the process.
Head coach Todd Helbling is optimistic about his team’s chances this year.
“I was very happy with our play overall,” he said. “We have some work to do, but we have a whole lot of talent and hard working guys, which is going to make for a great season.”
“We didn’t lose anyone, we added some awesome freshmen, and everyone who came back has really improved,” he said. “I think this is going to be a great year for us.”
The Eagles will take the court again Sept. 21-23 at Old Dominion University, followed by the UMW-hosted ITA Regional Tournament Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
The Eagle women won’t open their season until the ITA Regional.