Bearcat tennis teams gear up for 2003 season

For Willamette University third year tennis coach Becky Roberts, the 2003 edition of her men and women’s tennis teams offer some striking similarities.

Both squads return a veteran core of players who gained valuable experience during last year’s campaign. Both teams bring on some solid newcomers who will contribute immediately. And Roberts hopes both teams move up this season in Northwest Conference rankings.

On the women’s side, perhaps the most compelling story is the play of senior Jasmyn Caoile. Despite not having played competitively since high school, Caoile decided to compete this season and will be one of the top singles players for the women. She’ll be joined by junior Cortney Groves. The two will compete all season for the top two singles spots.

“Jasmyn is just a natural athlete and very competitive player. Cortney has really worked hard and wants to take on a leadership position on the team,” said Roberts. “With those two at the top of our singles brackets, we’ll get good play in our number one and number two singles.”

Roberts will also get help from a trio of returning sophomores. Ashley Layton, Amber Martin and Melody Kerber all gained valuable playing time last season and will be counted on to fill the middle matches in both doubles and singles.

“Kerber had a great spring last year and will be our number 3 or 4 singles player in most matches. Amber is our human backboard. She just puts everything back in play,” said Roberts.

Sisters Allison and Katie Ervine will also play a lot of matches for Roberts. Roberts is also counting on transfer student, freshman Morgan Bagge, along with freshmen Emily Langston, Julia Lemmerman and Leslie Schisswohl.

For the WU men, Roberts’ top player, junior David Stiles, begins the season recovering from an injury and won’t play until the men travel to San Antonio for a series of matches in February.

In the meantime, Roberts will get plenty of experienced help from senior Greg Reinert and sophomore Matt McManus. Rounding out the top six for the men’s side are senior Andrew Rodgers, junior Josh Barnett and freshman Jeff Garrison.

“We have a lot of players moving up from last season, and a lot of good experience,” said Roberts. “It will take them a few matches to gain confidence, playing at the higher seeds, but I expect this team to have a solid Northwest Conference season.”

Sophomore Garrett Nakamatsu will be one of Roberts’ top doubles players. Soccer player David Tercek has recently joined the squad, along with junior Francisco Ramos of Ecuador.

Roberts also has a solid core of sophomores and freshmen competing for playing time, including Brian Best, Andy Frey, John Groat, Read McFaddin, Tomoki Okubu and Adam Poush.

“As we gain experience and confidence, this should be a team that finishes in the top six in the conference. Up and down, the conference has improved from last season and we’ll have to play well to crack into the top tier,” said Roberts.