The Loyola University New Orleans women’s tennis program is entering its fourth year while the men return for a third season. Both programs enjoyed program highs in victories last season. The women went 4-8 have improved their record in all four seasons of play. The men have improved their record in all three years of competition, culminating with a 3-8 record last season.
Both squads boast four returners while looking to infuse a combined seven freshmen into the Wolf Pack squad.
Sophomore Meghan de Baroncelli looks to lead the way for the women’s squad. The Louisiana high school state champion had an excellent first season for the Wolf Pack last year by playing in the #1 singles spot and boasting a 7-5 record against the opposition’s top player.
“Meghan is going to be very hard to beat this year,” said Head Coach Zubin Engineer. “She has gained a lot of experience and she worked this offseason to add some strength. She is going to have a very good year as our number one player.”
De Baroncelli teamed with Frances Bonnin to capture four wins in doubles play. Bonnin, a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, will captain the team this season. The senior tallied two singles wins for the Wolf Pack while playing in the #3 spot last season. Bonnin is a four year varsity letter winner and will be the first player to accomplish that feat since the program rebooted in 2010.
The returners are rounded out by juniors Chelsea Keene and Cristiana Krtalic. Keene hails from Tallulah, Louisiana and sported a 3-6 record in 2012. Krtatlic, from New York, New York, also garnered three victories for Loyola.
The women’s team will add three freshmen in Kanda Borgognoni, Wesley Dejoie, and Madeline Smith. Borgognoni joins the team from Lake Village, Arkansas and received the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award for her school in 2011 due to her academic and athletic performance in high school . She was also a top five player in the state of Arkansas.
Dejoie joins the team from Detroit, Michigan after playing at the #1 spot in high school and making three straight state championships. Smith helped her high school team in San Diego, California finish 23rd in the state last season.
Engineer said, “This will be a big grooming year for the three freshmen. They all have a lot of talent, but need to gain the experience of an entire year. I have high hopes for them.”
The men’s squad also will be looking to improve when four talented freshmen join an established group of SSAC competitors.
Seniors Joshua Laviolette and Matthew Farnham are the top two returners for the Wolf Pack. Laviolette collected two wins while playing primarily at #3 singles last season, the New Orleans native and team captain will be asked to step up this season as the team lost the top two singles players from last season in Brian Pena and Devon Belcher. Farnham, from Joplin, Missouri, recorded four victories at the number four position last season.
Sophomores Eduardo Garcia, from Managua, Nicaragua, and Emanuel Benjamin, native of New Orleans, combined to win five matches last season while primarily playing in the fifth and sixth spots.
“Emmanuel and Eduardo have gained a lot of experience from last season. They held up to the rigors of SSAC competition and will be the better for it this season,” stated Engineer.
Those returners will be joined by a promising group of newcomers which include Jaron Belcher, Gregory Jones, David Mayhall, and Tarun Surat. Mayhall, who hails from Mobile, Alabama, joins the team after winning a 5A State Championship in 2009, he was one of the top players in the state. Surat joins the team from Hyderabad, India and was ranked #32 by the Indian Tennis Association. He also carried an International Tennis Federation junior rank of 305. He and fellow newcomer Jaron Belcher have a lot of experience playing the international junior circuit.
Coach Engineer stated, “I believe the four freshmen provide us with a lot of depth. They all have a lot of experience playing in junior circuits and now just need to gain experience playing against college opponents.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will be looking to add to their win total of three and four, respectively from last season. They have continued to get better each season, and look to continue that progress into the 2013 season.