Written by Lancaster Brown
BUENA VISTA, Va.—After beginning with a 4-1 mark in the fall, the Southern Virginia University men's tennis team finished the season with a 7-8 overall record.
"We started strong in the fall," said fifth-year Head Coach Tony Caputo, men's tennis' all-time winningest coach with a 49-35 record. "Then, we had a tough finish that helped us learn what it will take to compete in the Capital Athletic Conference."
Southern Virginia started the 2012-13 campaign with a 7-2 win over Ferrum on Sep. 19, 2012, catapulting the Knights to winning six out of their first nine matches—seven of the opponents belonging to NCAA Division III and one to Division II.
Southern Virginia split victories with future Capital Athletic Conference-foe Frostburg State, winning the fall matchup 7-2 on Sep. 28, 2012, followed by a reciprocated 7-2 loss to the Bobcats on Apr. 10, 2013.
"The Frostburg State match in the fall was a great win as they took fifth in the CAC this season," said Caputo.
The Knights also traded matching scores with Randolph College, including a 5-4 advantage on Oct. 11, 2012, then dropping their first spring match on the Wildcats' courts (5-4) on Mar. 14, 2013.
After dominating decisions over Hood College (9-0 on Mar. 22) and Virginia Union (8-1 on Mar. 27), Southern Virginia lost three consecutive matches to DIII-opponents St. Mary's, Randolph-Macon and Shenandoah to move to 6-6 on the year.
Following a 6-1 victory over West Virginia State on Apr. 9, the Knights went into the last week of the season one win above .500, but dropped two of their last three matches to finish with the program's first losing season since the 2009-10 season.
"This year's schedule challenged our team week-in, week-out," said Caputo. "Although we didn't finish on top, I felt that the experience will help us transition better into what to expect next season."
Men's tennis went 1-3 when facing CAC members this season—going 1-1 with Frostburg State while dropping matches to York and St. Mary's as well.
"The matches against Saint Mary's and York showed us the level of competition in the conference," said Caputo.
Senior Kenneth Mize (Parker, Colo.) ended his collegiate career with a 4-4 singles record highlighted by a 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 4-seed John Glencoe in his last singles match as a Knight against Frostburg State.
"Kenneth was one of our most versatile players during his three-year career here," said Caputo.
Blocher registered 7-7 singles and 6-8 doubles marks respectively, generally competing at the No. 2 and 3 positions in singles play while Brown finished with a 3-6 overall singles record.
"Brian stepped up his game, coming up with some big decisions for us. I look for him to be a leader on the court for the next few years," said Caputo. "Lancaster provided solid depth for us all season."
Junior Timothy Birch (Sandy, Utah) performed at the No.1 position for the majority of the spring season.
"Timothy faced tough competition this year at the top seed and had some success," said Caputo.
Andrew Angerbauer (Bountiful, Utah) finished with a 5-5 record individually and a 5-5 mark in doubles play. Starting the year at the No. 5 position, Angerbauer worked his way up to as high as No. 2 for Southern Virginia.
Ravisankar earned a 4-6 singles record at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions in his freshman season.
"Andrew [Angerbauer] made great improvement throughout the season, and he should really help us next year," said Caputo. "Pradeep [Ravisankar] came in and showed with his consistent play that he could compete in the top seeds."
"Both Seth and Isaac really improved as the season progressed," said Caputo. "They offered a lot of energy and were highly regarded by their teammates."
Men's tennis is expecting new tennis facilities to be completed before the fall season in preparation for its first full CAC conference schedule for 2013-14.
"We have some big things happening this summer with the construction of our new courts," said Caputo. "We're very excited about the direction our men's tennis program is going and look forward to a strong start in the CAC next season."