The Clemson Tiger Tennis Team continues to improve as Head Coach Chuck McCuen enters his second year in charge of the program. He is happy with the progress, and most importantly the effort he saw this past fall.
“We continue to show improvement everyday at practice and in the classroom. Last year we moved up four places in the ACC standings,” said Clemson Head Coach Chuck McCuen. “We are looking to move up more this year and show improvement on the court. It’s a work in progress and I think we showed improvement not only on the court, but our attitudes, recruiting, and classroom work. We had the highest GPA for the spring semester in our history. We made a tremendous amount of progress in many areas.
“There is always room for improvement and we are definitely not going to rest on our laurels. Our strength of schedule will be improved this season. We are more strategic in the positions in our schedule and this will help us improve as a team.
“Overall this will be the deepest team that we have had since I have been here (including years as assistant coach under Chuck Kriese). We are bringing in a great recruiting class and we are very excited about the spring.
McCuen has gotten a lot of help from assistant coach John Boetsch. “John has done a great job recruiting. I don’t think of him as an assistant–we are a team. He has worked so hard bringing in great tennis players and we are very happy with the future. Our freshmen are going to push our upperclassmen and that is a good thing.
“This is the best recruiting class we have had since I have been here as far as depth and people who could make an impact and challenge for a starting position right away.”
Clemson returns four starters from last year’s team that finished 11-13 overall and 3-8 in the ACC. Among the starters are seniors, Carlos Alvarez, Rok Bizjak and Gera Boryachinskiy. Kevin Galloway is a junior who is also a returning starter.
“Our depth will be our strength, I feel we will be better that last year. Our freshman will come in and push everyone for playing time. Our attitude and work ethics continues to improve. We still need to improve our confidence and learn to win the close matches and working harder and smarter.”
Carlos Alvarez played number-one singles for the Tigers last year and finished the season with an 11-17 record overall. “Alvarez is a very solid player and should start at the top of the lineup,” said Coach McCuen. “He has a great work ethic and an excellent attitude. He has high expectations for this season. He needs to improve on his finish and be more aggressive at the net. He is a very competitive player and is a great team leader and is very vocal.”
Rok Bizjak played number-two for the Tigers and finished the season with a 13-16 mark in singles play. “Rok is a quiet leader and is a very talented player. He has a good work ethic. He’s not a vocal leader but instead leads by example.”
Gera Boryachinskiy is the third senior who will be a factor this year. He finished last year with a 12-15 mark overall. “Gera does all the right things. Our goal this season is to work on his ability to finish points at the net. His presence around the net and quickness for his six-foot-six size makes him a very special player. He has a good serve and return.”
Kevin Galloway had a solid sophomore season as he had a 17-14 record in singles, tied for the team high in singles victories. “Kevin has improved his ball striking and volleys and had a lot of good wins last year. We are excited by Kevin’s improvement, and he should have another good season.”
Wesley Moran finished the 2009 season with a 17-14 record overall, and a 13-11 mark in dual match play. “Wesley stepped up last season when given the opportunity. He is a great doubles player and has really good hands. He trained hard this summer and continues to gain size and strength. We are real excited about his future as he continues to develop his game.”
Derek DiFazio saw limited action in 2009 after suffering from injuries. He finished the season with a 6-3 record overall in singles. “Derek is coming off injury, and did not see much playing time in 2009. He will make a great contribution to our team because he has gained strength and has become more consistent in his play.”
Robert Pietrucha, a junior, finished the year with an outstanding 6-1 record in singles play and a 7-6 mark in doubles. “Robert is the glue of our team. He does everything right in the classroom and on the court. He has a great work ethic, as he is the last one to leave the courts. He holds his teammate accountable and makes sure they stay focused and motivated. Robert has improved all aspects of his game, mentally and physically.”
The freshmen include Juan Bolona, Moritz Dettinger, Cal Hilsman, Yannick Maden, and Zachary Rigsby. These freshmen are expected to provide a lot of competition to the veterans on this year’s team and push for starting roles.
“Juan brings a lot of international experience, as he is one of the top players from his country of Ecuador. We are counting on him to push for playing time and be very successful in the singles lineup.
“Moritz Dettinger is one of the top 30 in juniors in Germany. We are very excited about him because he is a very athletic and strong player. Cal Hilsman is a local South Carolina player who will bring leadership both on and off the court, even as a freshman. He is one of the United State’s top ranked junior players.
“Yannick Maden is a very skilled and accomplished player. He has international experience and will improve our overall skill level, even as a freshman.
“Zachary Rigsby is one of the top players in South Carolina. He has a lot of talent and is very athletic. He has already met our expectations with his work ethic and consistency on and off the court. He has a big serve and forehand. He will help us in doubles and will challenge for a staring position in our lineup.”
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