Ashland University's men's tennis team has earned a spot in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships in its first season back as a program since 1995.
"We are super humbled to make the tournament our first season in the GLIAC since we are in a very competitive conference with great teams," said head tennis coach Lexi Bolesky. "We showed a lot of growth and maturity in our first season, and are excited to see what we are able to bring and accomplish at the tournament."
The Eagles had an impressive regular-season campaign in their first year. They went 12-11 overall, and had a 3-5 record in the GLIAC, good enough for a No. 6 seed in the tournament.
Ashland will play its first match of the tournament against No. 3 Ferris State. The Eagles' last matchup with perennial powerhouse Ferris ended in a 5-2 defeat on the road on April 6.
"The first key to success for us this weekend is to believe. We have a very talented team from top to bottom with a ton of potential," said Bolesky "It is going to take our guys buying into the team first mindset, stepping out confidently together, trusting their abilities, and supporting one another. The next key will be our energy and enthusiasm. Coming out ready and improving with each shot. The last key is leaving it all out there and showing a ton of heart and fight."
To earn a first-round win, AU will need its No. 1 doubles squad, freshmen Stuart Brdicka and Jordan Phelps, to be on their game. The duo reached a national ranking of as high as No. 17 on March 27, and were the highest ranked all-freshman doubles team in the nation at the time.
The Eagles also will need junior Priyank Soni to step as he did in Ashland's last matchup with the Bulldogs. He was convincing at No. 1 singles, winning in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1. Soni was a dominant force for the entire regular season at No. 1 for Ashland, compiling a 6-2 record in GLIAC play.
Senior Stanislaw Grzeslo also will need to have a repeat performance. He won at No. 6 singles in April against Ferris. Grzeslo won two long sets, 7-6, 6-4.
GLIAC Championship play will begin on Friday (April 26) at 6:45 p.m. Second-round play is slated for Saturday (April 27) at 3:45 p.m. Championship Sunday (April 28) will only feature two matches, the GLIAC Championship, and the 3rd-place match, both beginning at 9 a.m.
"The team has grown together and become a tight unit," said Bolesky. "The guys have done a wonderful job of creating a competitive winning culture."