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Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - page 3

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Season Preview
menís tennis looks for improvement

Wayne Mitchel is so accustomed to his last name being spelled incorrectly that he usually just lets it go without complaint.

However, the senior captain is committed to making sure the Muhlenberg men's tennis team
Jordan Rutt
Rutt (above) and Goldwein (right) scored a nice 8-5 win against Elizabehtown after falling behind 4-1 at the start of their No. 1 doubles match.
doesn't have any extra "L's" on its record in 2011.

Mitchel is one of several returning veterans on the Mules, who opened their spring season with a 9-0 win at Penn State Berks almost a month ago. They resumed in earnest with a 6-3 home loss to Elizabethtown and have four more matches in the next two weeks, including their Centennial Conference opener at home against Gettysburg a week from Saturday.

Last year, Muhlenberg was 5-9 overall and 3-6 in the strong CC.

"Realistically, we'd like to get above .500 and do a little bit better than last year," said Mitchel. "The conference is really tough. We want to be Robbie Goldwein able to compete with the top teams and give them a run for their money."

The Mules return their top two singles players in junior Jordan Rutt and senior Robbie Goldwein, who also are serving as team captains and play No. 1 doubles together. Rutt was a respectable 7-9 in his first season at No. 1 singles last year after starting out at No. 4. Goldwein was 5-9 at No. 2.

Until Mitchel returns from his injury, the remainder of the lineup will be filled with less-experienced players. Freshmen Jason Teitelbaum and Ben Berkowitz jumped right in during the fall, with Teitelbaum winning the B4 singles draw and Berkowitz reaching the semifinals of the B5 draw at the ITA Southeast Regional.

Sophomore Ari Nutovits went 3-0 last year before suffering an injury, and juniors Andrew Brod and Ben Cohen also are expected to be regulars in the lineup for the first time in their careers.

How well the Mules do on the court may be a reflection of how they do off the court. According to Mitchel, improving team camaraderie has been a focus, and it has already paid dividends.

"In past years, we were like individuals on the court. This year, we started team dinners, and we got our own locker room," he said. "We feel like we're more legitimate and more together. Even though tennis is an individual sport, when we're on the court, we won't be just playing for ourselves; we'll want to play for the guys next to us. That'll help us all play better."

The camaraderie showed in the Elizabethtown match, although it didn't translate into a win. The players huddled together before the match and in between singles and doubles, offered each other advice and encouragement, and cheered loudly when Brod scored the final point in his third-set tiebreaker to win the last match on the court.
Click here for Elizabethtown box score.

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