Just last year the Quinnipiac men’s tennis team had finished third place in the NEC. However with the recruitment of the top freshmen class in the league, Quinnipiac was favored to finish in first place in the 2004 season. The Bobcats received six first place votes, three more than second place Farleigh Dickenson. Now, the team is playing so well, they have been ranked No. 69 in the entire country for Division I men’s tennis.
With the addition of six new freshmen to a team with a mere two seniors, the Bobcats have exceeded pre-season talks by not only establishing first place in the NEC, but also being ranked No. 69 in the nation. While Quinnipiac had been nationally ranked during their Division II days, the 2004 season marks the first time the Bobcats have ever been ranked nationally as a Division I school.
Winning nine out of their last 11 games and improving to 3-0 against NEC competition, the young ‘Cats are starting to believe that they can play with the best in the country and eagerly await a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.
After sitting down with Head Coach Mike Quitko, it seems apparent that both the coach and the players are confident that all their hard work and dedication this year could result in one of the better men’s tennis seasons in Quinnipiac history.
Quitko has done a remarkable job this season with a young team, many of whom are playing collegiate tennis for the first time. While many of Quitko’s practices consist of carefully matching up players to play against each other, he has also strengthened an inexperienced team by requiring them to lift weights with their own personal trainer three times a week. A technique that has proved to strengthen his players’ endurance in matches this year, as well as improve each player’s ability to efficiently make it to spots on the tennis court faster than their opponents.
“If we continue to work the way we have been our team expects to do very well in the NCAA tournament,” Quitko said.
Perhaps the rarest aspect of this year’s young tennis team is their uncanny ability to make other teams make mistakes. In their first contest of 2004, the Bobcats backed Sienna in a corner, winning the first point of the match by clearly outplaying their competition in doubles and taking 2 out of the 3 matches. Quinnipiac finished their day by taking another point when they went nearly flawless in the singles competition, capturing five out of the six matches.
“The only people that can beat us are us, at this point,” Quitko said. “We have to keep out heads on straight and we can’t take anyone for granted.”
The determined Bobcats had won their three last matches and are now approaching the final leg of their season. With a mere five games left in the season before the NEC tournament, Quitko and company look to finish their season strong and gain momentum before playing elimination tennis.