2020 Men’s Tennis Season Preview

Posted on February 14th, 2020 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s tennis team, ranked No. 20 in the latest ITA Division III poll, is fresh off its touring week training trip in Florida and hosts a couple matches this weekend in preparation for next weekend’s ITA National Team Indoor Championships.

The Gusties have a deep roster this season that looks to fill vacancies left by All-Americans Chase Johnson and Patrick Whaling, who occupied the Nos. 1 and 2 singles as well as the No. 1 doubles spots.

“Chase and Patrick had phenomenal careers and were huge parts of our success,” Head Coach Tommy Valentini said, who is in his 11th season at the helm. “That’s a lot of wins and experience to have to move on from. We have a lot of guys who are back, but even those guys face new challenges ahead. Whether that is playing in our top group for the first time or they’re going to be playing in different spots in the lineup. Rather than trying to figure out how we are going to replace Patrick and Chase, we need to need to figure out how to make this group the best it is capable of being. We feel if we do that we should be in a good position.”

Two seniors who have taken on expanded leadership roles this year are Yassine Derbani (Casablanca, Morocco) and Michael O’Neil (Edina). Derbani will move into the No. 1 singles spot after primarily playing No. 3 last year. Derbani will also pair with Nick Aney (So., Rochester) at No. 1 doubles. The duo compiled a 20-6 record last season. O’Neil, a CoSIDA Academic All-American last season and an ITA Doubles All-American in the fall, will team with Daniel Fouchier (Fy., Nootdorp, Netherlands) at No. 2 doubles and will play on the higher end of the singles lineup.

“The depth is hugely important for us,” Valentini said. “It allows our guys to improve and this group is very deep. Everybody on our team works hard and cherishes the opportunity to face outside competition.”

That outside competition will come at the highest level next weekend when Gustavus hosts the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The Gusties open the eight-team tournament against defending national champion Emory.

“We’ve hosted the ITA a number of times and it’s always a huge honor to have it at our facility,” Valentini said. “To welcome the world of college tennis here for the weekend it’s one of the most enjoyable events to be a part of. It’s an opportunity to compete against many of the best programs in the country.”

 

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