Men's Tennis Looks to Challenge for LEC Crown

April 1, 2011

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-A couple of new faces at the top of the lineup and some key returning players are making University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's head men's tennis coach optimistic about his team this season.

After finishing 5-6 last season, the Corsairs are looking to reprise their success of two years ago when they won the Little East Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Division III Championships.

"We're looking to regain our form of 2009, when we reached the final 32 in the NCAA Tournament," said Mendell.

Sophomore Karsten Rathlev (Winchester, MA/Winchester HS), who played number three singles and number one doubles when the Corsairs went to the NCAAs two years ago, returns to the team this spring and is slated to play the top singles spot. Rathlev went 11-1 in singles and 8-4 in doubles two seasons ago, when UMD went 13-2 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Championships.

"Karsten is back after spending a semester at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida," said Mendell. "One of the key matches will be his match against his former doubles partner, Troy Pandolfi of Western Connecticut." Pandolfi played number two singles and number one doubles with Rathlev two years ago for UMD before transferring to WCSU.

Newcomer Brennan Dugas (Jr. East Falmouth, MA/Falmouth HS) should fill the number two position. "Brennan is a transfer from New York City who has returned from the Air Force reserves, and he will play a key role," said Mendell. "Sophomore Mike Parker (Scituate, MA/Scituate HS) will also play an important role as he will play at the number three position and team with Brennan Dugas in doubles. Freshman Matt Bejtlich (Rochester, MA/Moses Brown HS) will probably play number four and team with Karsten in doubles."

Returning players will fill out the remainder of the lineup. "The rest of the top six will include returning letter winner (sophomore) Mike Giaquinto (East Falmouth, MA/Falmouth HS) and junior co-captain Brian Lui (Medfield, MA/Medfield HS). Also competing for playing time will be (senior) Taha Souayah (Ariana, Tunisia), (junior) co-captain Mike Fink (Sagamore Beach, MA/Sturgis Charter School), (sophomore) Cody Zygmont (Swansea, MA/Case HS), (junior) Alex Ciampi (Chelmsford, MA/Chelmsford HS), (freshman) Jonah Katz (Marblehead, MA/Marblehead HS), and (sophomore) Phil Vieira (Portsmouth, RI/Portsmouth HS).

The competition at the top of the conference standings will be tough. "I feel that the top teams will be Western Connecticut, who are returning their top five or six players, as well as Rhode Island College," said Mendell. "I feel that we definitely have a chance to challenge for our conference championship. We have the talent, but we need hard work and desire to accomplish our goals."

The Corsairs begin their season next Tuesday, April 5th at Eastern Nazarene. The top six teams will advance to the conference championship, which is scheduled for May 3rd, 5th and 7th with the higher seeded team hosting each round.

UMASS DARTMOUTH TENNIS