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February 19, 2013

Sagehens Open 2013 Season Thursday Against Bates

Claremont, Calif. - The No. 10-ranked Pomona-Pitzer Men's Tennis team will be gunning for its third straight NCAA Division III apperance this season, beginning with Thursday's season opener against No. 15 Bates at 5:30 p.m.

The Sagehens return most of its line-up from a year ago, although No. 1 singles player and three-time All-American Tommy Meyer graduated from the top spot to leave a big hole to fill. However, there was plenty of talent behind him ready to move up a spot on the Pomona-Pitzer ladder, giving the team plenty of reason for optimism.

Leading the way will be junior Chris Wiechert (Portland, Ore. - pictured) who played at No. 2 singles last year, where he consistently produced key victories for the Sagehens. At one point early in the season, Wiechert won 13 straight singles matches, 12 of which came against nationally ranked teams, including a win against No. 1 Amherst.

Wiechert showed he was ready for the top spot in the Sagehen line-up in the fall, when he reached the finals of the ITA West Region championships before falling in three sets in 100-degree heat in the final match.

Right behind him is senior Max Sabel (Sun Valley, Idaho), who played at No. 3 singles last year and is Pomona-Pitzer's emotional leader.  Sabel and fellow senior Frankie Allinson (Waco, Texas) took over the No. 1 doubles spot last year as well, and reached the semifinals of the Ojai Tournament. Allinson played most of last season at No. 5 singles and will give the Sagehens additional experience in the line-up. 

Sophomore Connor Hudson (Denver, Colo.) had an impressive freshman year in 2012, stepping into the Sagehen line-up at No. 4. He had a key win over Cal Lutheran in a 5-4 victory in the SCIAC semifinals, as well as a win in the first ever victory for the Sagehens against UC Santa Cruz.

There are plenty of strong candidates to fill the two openings in Pomona-Pitzer's singles line-up this year. Senior Kevin Prescott (Chicago, Ill.) finished the year playing No. 6 and will be a strong candidate to remain in the line-up this spring. Sophomore Kevin Wei (San Diego, Calif.) and sophomore Michael Chang (Milpitas, Calif.) had some experience playing in the No. 6 spot last year, while sophomore Connor Sutton (Overland Park, Kan.) was in the doubles line-up for part of last year and could crack the singles line-up this time around.

Four incoming freshmen could also push the veterans, as Sam Crawford (Kansas City, Mo.), Tim Kanellitsas (Hailey, Idaho), Jonathan Kim (Clayton, Calif.), and Thomas Low (Charlotte, N.C.) will all try to make an impact on the program in their first seasons. Although the competition is tight for the six singles spots, the Sagehens did lose three of their six doubles players, which will give many of the new faces a chance to have a key role right away.

Pomona-Pitzer ended last year with a couple of close defeats, falling 6-3 to CMS in the SCIAC finals in a match which saw a lot of three-setters in singles, and 5-3 to UC Santa Cruz in the regional semifinals.  The 2013 Sagehens enter the new campaign with a lot of motivation from last year's narrow defeats.