WINONA LAKE – Grace’s men’s and women’s tennis teams will get their 2018 fall seasons underway this week.
The squads will open up at home on Tuesday with a match against rival Bethel at Miller Athletic Complex.
Grace’s women’s tennis team is prepped for a big year under head coach Marcus Moore. The Lady Lancers posted a 9-6 record in 2017 and return their top five players.
They are led by seniors Jenna Jackson and Molly Fitzpatrick who have experienced the program’s growth since their freshman seasons.
Emily Mast was Grace’s No. 1 singles player and dominated at No. 1 doubles alongside Carrie Copeland. Mast’s 13-2 mark at No. 1 doubles set Grace’s program record, and Copeland finished second at 12-2.
Shelby Bankson picked up 13 wins overall as a sophomore, including an 8-7 doubles’ record.
Moore was impressed by how the Lady Lancers had improved in the summer, commenting that it was one of the best offseasons in recent memory.
“I’m really excited to get started. I know the girls have been working hard on their own to prepare for a grinding tennis season,” he said.
Moore has brought in a pair of freshmen to compete for starting spots. Jayna Armstrong from Noblesville and Morgan Mast from Fairfield (Emily’s sister) will be “counted on to contribute immediately,” Moore said. “They are very talented players, and I’m anxious to get them started.”
The Lady Lancers have multiple goals in mind. One in particular is to break the all-time wins’ record. Grace fell two wins short last fall.
“I expect our girls to come in everyday and work as hard as they can to improve. I think if we stay healthy, their goal to set the wins record is within reach,” he said.
Grace’s men’s tennis team has high expectations for the year under head coach Andy Lewis. The Lancers are aiming to better last year’s 4-6 record with a talented crop of newcomers.
Returning to Grace’s lineup are seniors Conner Bates and Caleb Yoder. A trio of juniors (Diego Zamora, Arturo Fonseca, Lucas Fonseca) are also poised to help the Lancers climb up the Crossroads League standings.
Grace took a big hit after last year, graduating three of its top four players after the season. But Lewis was confident that this recruiting class had the talent to match or even surpass last year.
“I am excited to watch this team this year. I get a front row seat to some great tennis,” Lewis said. “We will have some very strong parts to our lineup, and we should have some players do well at ITAs.”
The Lancers brought in three freshmen and two transfers for 2018. Pavle Popovic, from Serbia, played last year at NCAA Division I Middle Tennessee State, and Carlos Gomez is a junior from Colombia.
Freshmen Max Rozas (Chile), Jacob Gray (Greenwood High School) and Steven Gutzwiller (New Palestine High School) give Lewis a glut of options to use this fall.
Rozas is rated in the top five of Chile in the juniors’ division, and Gray played No. 1 at Greenwood as a tall, lefty athlete.
“We are going to focus on effort this year. These players have a lot of potential, and it will be neat to see how far that talent takes us with hard work,” he said.