BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University men's tennis team will feature some new faces in the starting lineup as veteran Head Coach Brian Rector looks to lead the Yellow Jackets back to the top of the Ohio Athletic Conference in 2017-18.
Rector, who is the winningest coach in program and in Ohio collegiate tennis history, returns three letterwinners and starters from last year's squad that finished 17-4 overall and 6-2 in the conference. While losing three of the team's top players to graduation will be tough, the Yellow Jackets will rely on the leadership they left behind and look to bounce back with a new-look lineup this season.
All-OAC, Academic All-OAC and Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athlete juniors Dominic Polifrone (Hudson) and Matt Harris (Akron/Revere) along with sophomore ITA Scholar Athlete Jake Elbin (Findlay) return as the team's starters. Polifrone earned his second All-OAC honor by finishing the season with a singles record of 18-7, including 4-4 in conference action, and tied for team-best in doubles wins with 19. In two years as a Yellow Jacket, Polifrone has compiled a 42-11 singles record, a 43-16 doubles record and a winning percentage of .759. Earning an All-OAC honorable mention for his efforts last season, Harris finished the season with 18 wins at No. 1 doubles and 17 wins in singles, including a 6-2 record in OAC play. Elbin rounds out the starters as he finished with a 15-5 doubles record and 14-4 singles record during his freshman campaign.
Junior ITA Scholar Athlete Roger Boyer (Medina/Brunswick) will look to improve on a season that saw a career-high five wins in singles matches, including a 3-1 record at No. 6 singles, and a 6-2 record in doubles.
Senior Alex Papke (Federal Way, Wash./Thomas Jefferson) and junior Ben Binion (Shelby) will provide added experience as both players compete for a spot in the lineup after having limited roles last season. Freshman Michael Benotti (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon) is the lone new face to the team this year and will learn a lot from his veteran teammates as he also pushes for a spot in the top six.
The collegiate tennis season is split into a fall and spring schedule with a majority of match play coming in the spring. BW opens the 2017-18 season on Thursday, September 14, when it hosts Mount Vernon Nazarene University at the Pop Collins Tennis Courts at 3 p.m and will follow that up by competing in the Oberlin Invitational Saturday and Sunday, September 16-17.
The 2018 OAC Championships will be contested in early May at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.