Tennis about to hit full swing

Jason Levy

Last May was a grueling time for Quinnipiac tennis coach Mike Quitko. The coach led the women against Stanford in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Palo Alto, Calif., on May 14, then immediately flew to Boston for the men’s opening round match against Harvard. And if Quitko has his way, it’ll happen all over again this year.

As the tennis season starts up again, the Bobcats are confident they can get back to the top of the Northeast Conference and back to the NCAA Tournament. Part of the reason for last years success is Quitko, who is fourth among active New England tennis coaches in victories and recently was named the 2004 USA Tennis New England College Coach of the Year.

But if you talk to him about it, he will give all the credit to his players. “It was an honor to win the award, especially since I didn’t even know I was up for it,” Quitko said, “but the real credit goes to the athletes who played. They are the ones who won it for me. The band leader may be leading, but the musicians play the notes.”

The competition will be tough in the NEC, especially on the women’s side, where coach Quitko has one particular team in mind. “Long Island University will be our toughest opponent,” Quitko said. “We played them in the finals last year, and expect to again this time around. But if someone else wants to knock them off, that’s fine by us.” He was not sure of who will try and dethrone the men’s team. “I’m really not sure who our biggest competition is. We’ll take on anyone that comes, and I honestly don’t know who that will be,” Quitko said.

The women’s team features seniors Liz Axler and Katherine Ehle, who Quitko expects to be on and off court leaders this season. They will have to make up for the loss of their one and three players and all seven of the players will see time this season.

As for the men’s team, Quitko believes that any one of the players can step up, but mentioned one player in particular. “One player who should get more notice is sophomore Stefano Salvatore…He will make his mark this season.”

Hopes are high on both sides of tennis teams. Each team has a solid core of players, and a top-notch leader in Quitko. This group of Bobcats wants nothing less than to make it back to the NCAA tournament.