COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University men's tennis team is set to open its spring season this weekend. The Crusaders are ready to build off of its share of last year's conference regular season championship, led by an eclectic cast of veteran returners and a few new faces.
The most familiar faces set to return and lead a successful singles lineup include senior Luke Buchanan (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central), junior Dale Booher (Hartville, Ohio) and sophomore C.J. Martin (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby). Last year, that trio combined to pull down 28 singles wins in singles play and another 22 among their respective doubles pairings. Buchanan represented Capital as a First-Team All-OAC selection while Booher was picked as a second teamer.
|Luke Buchanan, Sr.|
It is expected that Buchanan, Booher and Martin will, in some way, form the top three spots in Capital's singles lineup, though competition will remain constant to solidify their respective positions. In 2015, Martin played at least one match anywhere from the No. 2 singles spot down to No. 6 with a bulk of his decisions coming in the five-hole. There, Martin went 4-1.
Last year, Buchanan played all but one match in the top singles flight and went 9-7 in those matches. Booher went 11-4 out of the second spot.
Said first-year head coach Marc Wurtzman of the top end of his lineup, "Dale (Booher) and Luke (Buchanan) are both very talented and when they play and compete well, they can defeat anyone in the country, but it still takes the overall team effort to win us the OAC which is our ultimate goal."
Where it will get interesting is how the rest of the lineup will fill out. Wurtzman continued, "I feel that at the beginning of the spring season the most competition will be between four through six singles between Gian Carlo (DiMichaelangelo), Jared (Judson), Beau (Streety), and Santino (DiMichaelangelo)."
|Jared Judson, Sr.|
Senior Jared Judson (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Jerome) served as a solid anchor to Capital's singles lineup, going 5-1 out of the sixth spot. Junior Beau Streety (Tuscon, Ariz.) went a combined 11-4 last year and saw the most success from the No. 4 position (7-1). Combined, the DiMichaelangelo brothers saw action in only nine matches, but totaled eight wins in the back end of the lineup.
Last year's doubles pairings brought home a total of 40 wins over the course of the season, good for a 70.2 percent success rate. A total of 12 combinations were put together but will need revamped with a few personnel departures. The duos of Judson/Streety and Booher/Buchanan remain intact and brought home 21 victories for the Crusaders. While those pairings are not solidified for the spring season, Coach Wurtzman is confident the right combinations will eventually surface.
"I think we have many great combinations that can be successful in doubles," said Wurtzman. "Both myself and Coach (Todd) Tucker feel that mixing up the combinations by strength and experience will be key until we find the best partnerships. We also feel that with the way we teach doubles we can be successful with many different combinations."
Capital brings back three seniors, each serving as captains alongside one another this season. The Crusaders do invite one freshman into the fold, John Roberts (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington). Roberts could factor into the mix this season as the Crusaders enter farther into regional and conference play.
"John (Roberts) has a big serve and aggressive style," said Wurtzman. "I think with hard work and discipline he can make an impact in the near future. I feel he can make some noise both in singles and doubles, in conference play and regionally."
With three matches carrying over from the fall season, Capital enters this weekend's spring season opener against Ohio Wesleyan University with an overall record of 2-1. The Battlin' Bishops and Crusaders will commence Saturday at 3 p.m. in Delaware.
"After having a good fall season the focus of the team has been strength and conditioning as well as voluntary hitting and match play," said Wurtzman. "I think each member of the team is in tremendous shape and it will pay off throughout the course of the season. Every second of the day is geared towards prepping for the OAC season."
Following Saturday's match, Capital will head to Florida on its annual spring break trip to play stout competition from all walks of the collegiate tennis circle. Their first home bout will be against Albion College (Mich.) on Sunday, March 20 at 12:30 p.m.
Capital will kick off its conference schedule on the road at John Carroll University, which was also in on a share of the regular season title in 2015. The first home OAC match will be a doubleheader pitting the Crusaders against Heidelberg University at 12 p.m. only to be followed by rival Otterbein University at 3:30 p.m.
Last year, Capital served as one of those three teams to share the regular season title, backed by an overall record of 14-5 and a 7-1 OAC ledger. The Crusaders fell to Otterbein in the conference semifinals, ending their season.