If the 2011 Lynn University men’s tennis team wants to revisit its
National Championship days from 2007, they will have to use a match from
April 17, 2010 as its motivation. After dominating eventual national
champion Barry on the road during the regular season, the Fighting
Knights fell to the Buccaneers on the 17th of April in the SSC
Championship Game, missing out on a chance to host the NCAA South
Head Coach Mike Perez, the winningest coach in any sport in Lynn history, sees a lot in common between this team and the squad that won the national title in 2007. Perez also brought back Julien Carsuzaa and Tomas Racak, who were both key components of the 2007 national championship team, as assistant coaches.
Senior All-American Alessandro Sarra is the top returning player for the Fighting Knights and should once again be penciled into the No. 1 position most matches. The native of Frosinone, Italy, went 12-8 last season in singles play and teamed with Willie Wolfer to form the No. 3 doubles team in the nation.
Wolfer, the SSC Freshman of the Year last season, will see most of his time in the second position after splitting time between three and four last year. Also a First-Team All-Conference selection, Wolfer went an impressive 18-2 in singles play in 2010.
Juniors Luca Pavanelli and Alex Voirin will see most of their time in the middle of the lineup as both saw time there as sophomores in 2010. Pavanelli went 13-6 last year primarily from the third spot while Voirin, an All-SSC performer last season, was 15-3 playing from the fourth and fifth flights. Pavanelli, a Milan, Italy native, might have the early edge after a solid fall season and enters 2011 ranked nationally.
George Laffey went 11-7 last season, his first in a Blue & White uniform after playing his first two seasons at Division I Fairfield University in Connecticut. The senior from Basking Ridge, N.J. played primarily from the fifth and sixth spots and should battle Pavanelli and Voirin for spots in the top of the order.
Rounding out the returners are sophomores Carlos Sanz and Victor Teboul. Both saw limited time last season but have the talent to step into key spots in the lineup at any time.
In his 22nd season as head coach, Perez has brought in a solid recruiting class headed by Penn State transfer Benji Kendall and freshman Vlad Cirla.
Kendall missed last season but had a winning record in both singles and doubles in his first two years with the Nittany Lions.
Cirla comes to Boca Raton from Romania where he had an illustrious junior career. The freshman had a great fall, besting the No. 1 singles player in the country, Philip Pakebusch of Valdosta State, and enters the spring ranked 10th nationally.
Also new to the squad is freshman James Dean who was heavily recruited out of New York and should also battle for a spot in the lineup.
Once again, the Fighting Knights have organized one of the most difficult schedules in the country and will take on every team in the top eight of the preseason poll. The Blue & White will travel to Saint Leo for its season opener before heading to No. 7 Florida Southern on February 6.
Twenty-second ranked Northwood heads to Boca for LU’s home opener on February 9 before Lynn hosts St. Thomas (Fla.) on February 15.
Lynn will then travel to Valdosta, Ga. for a three-day tournament against No. 8 West Florida, the second-ranked Blazers and Auburn-Montgomery, the top team in the NAIA.
After the trip to the Peach State, Lynn hosts Bates College, one of the top teams in Division III, before travelling to Embry Riddle, another tough NAIA team on March 5.
The Blue & White will be at home for their final seven matches, five of which are against Top-15 opponents, before heading to Fort Lauderdale for the SSC Tournament.