With a good foundation laid and the maturation of last year’s freshmen, Clemson Head Coach Chuck McCuen is very anxious to start the 2011 season.
“We had some early success last year before injuries knocked us off track,” said McCuen who is entering his third year as the Head Coach of the Tigers. “Last year we had five freshmen on the roster and they have developed and gained confidence. Very simply, we are going to build on the success that we had and take advantage of the maturity of our players as we enter the 2011 season.”
Clemson won the first 15 matches of the 2010 season, the second best start in school history. The Tigers were only one win short of tying the school record for the best start as the 1969 team went undefeated that season, 16-0.
“There’s no doubt that we have not only matured mentally, but physically as well. Our players know what to expect and what it takes to be successful. The expectations are high not only by the coaches, but also the players. They are doing a great job with the little things that make teams successful. This team has synergy, as they are thinking and growing in the same direction. With this team’s attitude and their work ethic, we have the needed combination to have a great season.
“We are helping each other improve. Our practices are intense and we are getting so much out of our training. One thing that we need to stay away from this year is injuries. This is one area that really affected us last season. We are training hard and we have worked hard in the weight room.”
Clemson returns five starters and two other letterwinners from last year’s team. Last year the Tigers finished with a 17-10 record overall and a 3-8 mark in ACC play.
“We have great players in the past, but I think we have a lot of great players with lots of depth. I feel we will be very competitive. No one is complacent and no one is taking anything for granted.
“We have a lot of good doubles players. Right now we are working on trying different combinations. Last year we lost a lot of close matches by losing the doubles point. This season we are going to emphasize doubles and gain momentum by winning the doubles point.
“People realize what a jewel Clemson is and what a great program we have. Our facilities are excellent, thanks to major gifts from the Duckworth Family and others. Our academic support staff and facilities are essential to our student-athletes’ success, and we emphasize the importance of receiving a Clemson degree. I am honored and humbled to be part of this great family. With the effort, time, and work that we do, I know we are going to be a much improved team.”
Clemson has three seniors on the roster this year. Kevin Galloway, Derek DiFazio, and Robert Pietrucha are the trio that McCuen will be counting on this year.
DiFazio played number one singles for the Tigers last season and finished with a 12-17 record overall in singles play. He was 7-1 in dual matches and 16-10 overall in doubles. “Derek played with a lot of injuries last season that really hampered him from reaching his goals. He’s healthy now and had a great summer. I expect a lot from Derek at the top of the lineup.”
Kevin Galloway is a senior from Charlotte, NC. He led the team in singles wins with a 23-13 record overall and a 19-8 mark in dual matches. He played number three singles for the Tigers last season. “Kevin came back ready to play. I’m looking forward to him finishing with a strong performance enhancing his legacy at Clemson.
Robert Pietrucha is the third senior on the Tigers’ roster. Pietrucha finished the year with a 9-8 record in singles and a 6-9 mark in doubles play. Pietrucha a red-shirt will forgo his last year of eligibility and graduate this May. “Pietrucha is a silent leader and is a co captain this season. He is definitely a work-horse. He is always the first out on the court and the last to leave. He is a go to guy and he help steers the team in the right direction. “Our senior leadership has to come through for us to be successful.”
The Tigers have only one junior on the squad as Murrells Inlet, SC native Wesley Moran returns. Moran finished the year with a 16-1 record overall and a 13-8 mark in dual matches. He finished 12-15 in doubles play. Moran started for the Tigers at number four singles.
Clemson’s three sophomores are very talented and will challenge for starting roles in the singles lineup. Juan Bolona was a starter at number six singles as he completed the year with a 9-4 record in singles and a 7-12 mark in doubles play. He was also a starter at number two doubles.
“Juan is a talented young man and he has worked his way into a fine player. He will be a contributor in both singles and doubles for us this spring.”
Moritz Dettinger was a solid player and finished the year with a 6-10 mark in singles and 8-16 in doubles play. He also played a great deal in doubles as a freshman.
“Moritz is one of our three players from Germany. He brings the power to our practices. He strikes the ball as well as anyone on our team. He is a motivator and helps the team get better each day.
The third sophomore, Zachary Rigsby had a 15-7 record overall and a 9-6 mark in dual matches. He also had an 8-10 mark in doubles play. He started at number six singles and was a dependable player in doubles.
“Rigsby has come back stronger and faster this year, and with a lot of confidence. We are pleased with Zachary and the depth he will add to the team.
Clemson has four newcomers on the squad. Cal Hilsman are both red-shirts from last year.
Yannick Maden sat out last year and will become eligible this spring season. “Yannick is a tremendous player and has played in a lot of high-level tournaments. He knows what it takes to be competitive at this level.”
Cal Hilsman is from Spartanburg and worked hard this past summer preparing for this season. “I can’t say enough about Cal. He played all summer long and gained a lot of experience. His work ethic and maturity is what makes him a special player. He brings a huge presence to the team.”
Gerardo Meza will join the Clemson Men’s tennis team for its spring season. Meza is one of Mexico’s top junior tennis players and had a very successful junior career competing on the ITF world circuit. He was ranked as high as 63rd in the world.
“Gerardo has definitely worked hard and is very dedicated. He’s had great coaching and he is very consistent in competing against the best players in the world,” said McCuen. During his junior career Meza played junior Davis Cup for Mexico twice where he again competed against some of the best junior players in the world. Meza was also a member of Mexico’s Davis Cup team in February 2010 against Guatemala. Meza trained at the Guizar Tennis Academy (GTA) in Orlando, FL during his junior career.”
Dominique is enters his first year at Clemson. He is a brother to teammate Yannick Maden.
“We have been impressed with Dominique’s play this fall. As a top German Junior Player, Dominique has been able to bring that experience and talent level straight to college. We look to Dom to contribute right away. He is a powerful player, who take points quickly–which makes him fun to watch.”
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