By Melissa Maitland
GNAC Sports Information Specialist
For the second year in a row, Suffolk University has been chosen as the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Tennis preseason favorite in a vote conducted by GNAC coaches. Emerson came in second place, with Johnson & Wales, Norwich, and Albertus Magnus rounding out the remaining teams in the 2010 preseason poll.
1. Suffolk (20)
2. Emerson (15)
3. Johnson & Wales (11)
4. Norwich (7)
#1 Suffolk Rams
The Rams, winners of the 2009 GNAC Men's Tennis Championship, finished 3-1 in conference play and 9-3 overall last season, received five first place votes and a total of 20 points in this year's preseason poll.
Returning for the Rams is 2009 GNAC Rookie of the Year, Christopher Staley. Staley was the only freshman named to the First Team Singles All-Conference. Diego Alvarado joined Staley on the First Team Singles All-Conference, and was also named to the Second Team Doubles All-Conference and the All-Sportsmanship Team. Also returning for the Rams is Jared Orkin (Second Team Singles All-Conference). The only all-conference honoree that the Rams graduated was Garrett Freeman (Second Team Doubles All-Conference). Suffolk begins defending the 2009 GNAC title on March 20 at Johnson & Wales.
#2 Emerson Lions
Emerson finished the 2009 regular season with an undefeated conference record, 4-0, making the Lions the 2009 GNAC Regular Season Champions, and an overall record of 8-4. The Lions are looking for redemption after losing the 2009 Championship to Suffolk.
Returning for the Lions is Allessandro Bellino, who was named to the First Team Singles All Conference and First Team Doubles All-Conference after handing the 2009 Player of the Year, Peter Hooper, his first collegiate singles loss. Bellino was also named to the All-Sportsmanship Team. Emerson graduated Brant Buckley (First Team Singles All-Conference, First Team Doubles All-Conference) and David Fein (First Team Singles All-Conference) from last year's squad. The Lions began their 2010 schedule with a 2-7 loss against MIT on Feb. 24. Emerson's next match is March 18 at Gordon College.
#3 Johnson & Wales Wildcats
The Wildcats finished in the 2009 regular season in 4th place with a 1-3 conference record, 3-6 overall. The Wildcats begin their 2010 season when they face Coast Guard on March 18.
#4 Norwich Cadets
Norwich concluded the 2009 campaign with a .500 record, going 2-2 in conference play and 6-6 overall. The Cadets graduated 2009 GNAC Men's Tennis Player of the Year, Peter Hooper. Norwich will look toward the future in sophomore Collin Hyte (Second Team Singles All-Conference). The Cadets will play their first match on March 10 against Castleton.
#4 Albertus Magnus Falcons
Albertus Magnus failed to qualify for the 2009 GNAC Men's Tennis Championship, finishing in fifth place with an 0-4 conference record, 4-5 overall. In 2009 the Falcons were a young team, with four freshman playing 1-4 singles. This season the Falcons will look to sophomores Mark Hales (Second Team Singles All-Conference) and Tim Gabbard (Second Team Singles All Conference, All-Sportsmanship Team) to get a GNAC victory in 2010. The Albertus Magnus men's tennis team has its first match March 21 against Post.
The top four teams at the conclusion of the regular season will qualify for the 2010 GNAC Men's Tennis Championship, which begins April 22.