This Saturday, the Kalamazoo College Men’s Tennis team opens their season against Wheaton in the Markin Racquet Center. The team will have a quick turnaround, as they host fellow top-10 Central Region Kenyon on Sunday.
The Hornets begin the season as the #6 ranked team in the Central Region of the Division III Men’s Tennis rankings, and are the preseason favorites in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Along with the team ranking, Kalamazoo also has the #2 ranked singles player in the region in senior Branden Metzler, last year’s National Runner-Up. Metzler and his doubles partner junior Elan Dantus are also ranked #8 in the region for doubles.
It is no surprise that the Hornets are expected to win the MIAA, having earned at least a share of the conference title in each of the last 78 seasons (three shared titles). Kalamazoo returns all but two players from last year’s team, only one of which played regularly for the Hornets. Kalamazoo is also the only MIAA team ranked in the Central Region, and the only school with singles or doubles players ranked.
Not only do 5 key players return from last season, but those 5 players were undefeated during MIAA last season. Kalamazoo also welcomes three first-years who could be key contributors. Noah Karoub and Daniel Henry both won their singles flights at the Hope Fall Invitational, while Zack Ray reached the semifinals. Karoub and Henry also both reached the Round of 16 at the Fall ITA Regionals.
The returning talent paired with the influx of newcomers should make the Hornets a force to be reckoned with in the MIAA.
This weekend is only the beginning of a very difficult non-conference schedule for the Hornets, who have six other top-15 Central Region schools on their schedule this season, five of which begin the season ranked in the top-10.
On Saturady, Metzler will face off against the #8 singles player in the Central Region, Justin Ancona of Wheaton, as well as the #7 doubles pair when he and Dantus face off against Ancona and Matt Steiner. Matches begin at 10 a.m.
Sunday pits Metzler against the #1 singles player in the region in Kenyon’s Sam Geier, and Kenyon’s #4 doubles pair Geier and Tristan Kaye. Sunday matches begin at 2 p.m.