GREENVILLE, Ill. - The 2018 -2019 GU men's tennis team is looking to build off of a record setting campaign. The 2017-2018 team posted the best record in the last 30 years of GU men's tennis, finishing 17-4! They also achieved a team UTR rating of 53, the highest in team history.
The Panthers said goodbye to one of the most decorated players in GU tennis history at the end of last season, as senior #1 player and captain Nate Wieland graduated. During Wieland's four years, the Panthers record was 61-19. And Wieland achieved the first individual UTR rating over 10 in team history!
Although Wieland will be missed, this group of returners and newcomers is still going to be a force to be reckoned with.
The core is strong, as the Panthers return 6 of their top 8 varsity players. They have also added a solid group of freshman to add to the depth.
Coach Brannon stated "This is the deepest team that we've had in my 19 years as coach. Our #12 player would've played #6 on many of my past teams. But we aren't just going to be a deep team, we still have plenty of talent at the top of our lineup to compete with anyone!"
The Panthers have 3 seniors to anchor the top 3 spots in the lineup. Justin Tilford, Zach Plocher, and Dan Pieplow bring much needed leadership and experience to this year's squad. All 3 are being asked to step up a spot or two in the lineup, and they showed in the fall that they are ready and willing.
Plocher and Pieplow upset the #6 seed at the ITA regional in the fall in doubles. Both of their opponents had ratings higher than 11UTR.
Plocher stated "We know that we are all going to have to step it up this year to continue our success! But we have a lot of confidence that we can keep this thing rolling! We can't wait to get the season started!"
Also returning this season is first team all conference performer Junior Austin Burkhart. Burkhart posted a winning percentage of over .900% in singles and doubles last year while on his way to earning 1st team all SLIAC in singles and doubles. He will once again be counted on as an anchor for a deep lineup.
Other returners include: Jeremiah Brannon, Micah Harlan, and Cecil Burkhart. Newcomers are Tyler Blume, Matthew Rodriguez, Matt Lehr, Garren Shelley, and Brett Barker.