Net gain: Freshmen will lead Mesa tennis teams
The Colorado Mesa University men’s and women’s tennis teams return most of their players from the 2011–12 team, but a couple of freshmen could make a big impact this season.
Freshmen Spencer Weinberg and Emily Dodson could give the Mavericks depth to win more matches this spring, CMU coach Dan MacDonald said.
Both teams are back on the courts this weekend in Phoenix, opening with Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University, ranked 13th in the nation for men and women, at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Mesa also plays NAIA programs Arizona Christian University and Vanguard (Calif.) University and Mesa (Ariz.) Community College.
The Colorado Mesa men (5-4) are picked fourth in the RMAC preseason poll, but the Mavericks are confident they can do better.
“I think we have a good chance this season, actually,” CMU senior Brason Hollabaugh said. “This and the team my freshman year are neck and neck on talent. The first-year team had a little bit of experience, but all these guys, if we step up, can be successful.”
Mesa has three freshmen on the team who are expected to see a lot of time in the lineup, including Grand Junction High School graduate Spencer Weinberg, who graduated a semester early in December and enrolled at Mesa this semester.
“Spencer is a great player,” Hollabaugh said. “He’s going to help us out a ton. We won a couple close matches and lost a couple close matches in the fall, but I think everyone has come together and found their place on the team.”
Weinberg will play No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles with sophomore Jordan Lyden.
“Spencer has been a difference-maker,” MacDonald said. “He gives us depth. I thought we had one of the best men’s teams in a long time in the fall without Spencer.”
Lyden, a preseason All-RMAC player, is back at No. 1 singles. Freshmen Andres Garcia-Rojas and Taylor Macres will play No. 3 and 4 singles, respectively. Hollabaugh will play No. 5 and freshman Trevor Brown will play No. 6.
Senior Andres Hernandez and Garcia-Rojas will play No. 2 doubles. Brown and Hollabaugh will play No. 3 doubles.
“The two and three doubles teams could switch around,” MacDonald said. “We’re still experimenting. We tried some things a couple weeks ago. Even this weekend, I don’t feel it’s a rush. We’re ready to play.”
Dodson will likely play No. 5 singles and possibly No. 3 doubles for the Mavericks this spring.
“Emily had a win over Weber State two weeks ago,” MacDonald said. “In the fall as a freshman, she overanalyzed things. Now, she looks like the kid I thought would come in and start when I recruited her.”
Dodson, who is from Alamogordo, N.M., came to Mesa for volleyball and tennis. Volleyball didn’t work out, but she found a spot on the tennis team. Her father is a doctor and a good friend of Pete Walsh, another doctor in Grand Junction.
Dodson joins returning players Kaylee Davis, a preseason All-RMAC player, Rachel McLaughlin, Shannen McNamara, Skyler Nelson and Kristyn Wykert.
The Mavericks (3-6) are picked to finish first in the RMAC along with Western New Mexico despite Mesa losing twin sisters Kaitlin and Kelleen Sera to graduation.
“I think Western New Mexico is the team to beat, both the men and the women,” MacDonald said. “We have a good chance. We have a strong women’s team as usual.”
MacDonald plans on playing Davis at No. 1 singles, McNamara at No. 2, Wykert at No. 3, McLaughlin at No. 4 and Dodson at No. 5. Nicole Lessley and Michelle Phillips will split time at No. 6 singles.
“Our women’s team, I’ll tell you, from four to nine is really close,” MacDonald said. “Any given day anyone beats each other.”
Davis and McNamara will play No. 1 doubles, while Nelson and Wykert will play No. 2 doubles. MacDonald is trying different combinations at No. 3 doubles, including Dodson, McLaughlin, Katie Metz and Phillips.