The Pomona-Pitzer men’s tennis team will begin their season this Saturday with a match against NAIA opponent Azusa Pacific. The Sagehens, ranked eighth in the country, are coming off their best season in over a decade.
Last year, the tennis team finished 17-6 and was rewarded with their first top-ten ranking since 1994. Several members of the program received national recognition for their efforts: Coach Ben Belletto was the ITA regional coach of the year, Chris Wiechert PZ ’14 was the national rookie of the year, and Tommy Meyer PO ’12 was named an All-American for the second consecutive year.
Coach Belletto, who is now in his ninth year as head of the Pomona-Pitzer program, is optimistic about his team’s chances this season.
“We had a great year last year and we worked very hard to get to the top ten,” Belletto remarked. “We worked like a top ten team… Obviously our goal is to improve every year.”
Meyer expressed similar views.
“It’s the most talented team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said.
The Sagehens lost only one key contributor and added five freshmen. Meyer is ranked twentieth in the nation and seventh in the west region, and Wiechert, Max Sabel PZ ’14, and Connor Hudson PO ’15 give the Sagehens four of the top 25 singles players in the west.
Meyer lost in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles championships to the eventual champion.
“He had a great year last year. He’s gotten better every year,” said Belletto. “Anything’s possible [for Meyer], depending on how he works.”
For his part, Meyer hopes to replicate the success that he has had the last few years, saying that he would “like to be an All-American again.”
Meyer explained that the team, hoping to improve on last year’s success, has increased its off-season conditioning program.
“It’s a long season, and you don’t want to be worn down at the end,” he said.
Belletto also stressed the importance of off-season training.
“Our goal is to compete for a national championship, so we work like [one],” he said.
The off-season workouts also helped make the team “a pretty tight group,” according to Meyer.
“We tried to make the freshmen welcome and a part of the team,” he added.
The SCIAC should be a battleground this year as fifth-ranked CMS aims to continue its streak of six consecutive conference championships. Fifteenth-ranked Redlands and twentieth-ranked Cal-Lutheran give the SCIAC four of the top 20 teams in the nation.
Matches consist of three doubles and six singles matches. The Sagehens have not set their lineup yet, but they look to be strong and deep. This weekend’s match is against powerhouse Azusa Pacific, which is ranked fourth in the NAIA. Azusa Pacific had two first team NAIA All-Americans last year and will be a good test for the Sagehens to begin the year. After that, the Sagehens will travel to Minnesota for the Division III Indoor Championships in late February.
The Pomona-Pitzer men’s tennis program is coming off its best year yet and looks poised to do even bigger and better things this season. With a talented and experienced lineup, they should be a strong contenders for conference and national awards.