2008 ECU Men's Tennis Preview
Jan. 18, 2008
GREENVILLE, N.C. - After a strong finish in the fall, which included a total of 37 singles and doubles wins in 56 matches, the East Carolina men's tennis team is anxiously looking forward to the start of the spring season.
The wait won't be a long one as the Pirates open the 2008 campaign this weekend with play at the Virginia Commonwealth Invitational, an event which will pit ECU against Georgetown, Drexel and James Madison at VCU's Thalhimer Tennis Center.
Although its schedule is a challenging one this year, East Carolina will be in a position to attack the slate with proven talent as the Pirates return all but two of the players off of last year's roster and added three strong freshmen.
"With the success of our fall season this year, we are hoping to take that momentum and carry it into our spring season," third-year head coach Shawn Heinchon said. "Everyone on the team did a great job of working hard and supporting each other in our fall tournaments. If we are able to keep that kind of commitment and dedication with us in the spring, we will have a great year. With great team chemistry it will be easy for them to help each other during the low points of the season, as well as help lift one another up to the best of their ability. With four sophomores, a junior, and two seniors coming back, we expect to use our experience to win close and tough dual matches."
One of the veterans Heinchon will be counting in 2008 is junior Aleksey Kochetov, who played at the No. 1 singles position in 21 of 22 matches a season ago. He will enter the new campaign looking to improve on an overall 8-14 record last spring, which included a 1-0 mark at No. 2.
"Aleksey will be a force at the top of our lineup again this spring," Heinchon added. "He had a great fall with a 6-1 record in singles play against some of the best competition in our region and we are looking for him to really breakout and come into his own as our No. 1."
According to Heinchon, another impact performer should be sophomore Stephen Whitwell, who put together an impressive 6-1 fall mark despite playing with an injury. Whitwell posted the Pirates' only winning singles ledger last spring, rolling to a 13-7 mark while primarily playing at the No. 3 position.
"Stephen went 6-1 this fall playing hurt," Heinchon quipped. "He beat some guys that he could face again in the spring, so he finds a way to win whether he's playing well or not. He brings a lot of energy to our team and we will need that to continue, for us to be successful.
On the other hand, one of East Carolina's main objectives this spring season will be to improve doubles play after logging a 30-33 overall mark in 2007 and struggling with tandem work during the fall.
"One of our weak points last fall was our doubles play," Heinchon said candidly. "We went 20-22 as a team and that will have to pick up greatly if we are going to have a shot of knocking off any of the nationally-ranked teams we play in the spring."
"Greg had better doubles results than singles this past fall and I would look for him to contribute in that area first," Heinchon stated. "He had a solid fall in singles with a 1-2 record but did very well in doubles, going 3-2 with a couple of different partners. Bryan will most likely play anywhere from 3-6 singles and No. 2 or 3 doubles. He was able to get a lot of experience from last year, which will only make him harder to beat this spring. He's one of the hardest working kids we have in our program and we know we can count on him."
The team has also welcomed some fresh talent for the spring as freshmen Jaroslav Horvath, Dave Masciorini and Henrik Skalmerud are expected to contribute as first-year performers. Heinchon feels they are all very strong and is counting on them to have a big impact on the season.