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[ Tuesday, Feb. 9, 1999 ]

Netmen sharpening skills indoors for spring campaign

Collegian Staff Writer

At a time of year when most Penn State athletes are gearing up for the end of the winter sports season, the Penn State men's tennis team is already plowing through its early indoor schedule.

Since the start of Spring Semester, the Nittany Lions have participated in two tournaments, the Big Ten Singles Tournament at Wisconsin and the Princeton Indoor Individual Championships at Princeton.

Now heading into the match portion of its schedule, there is a feeling of optimism among Penn State's ranks.

"They are showing a lot of progress," assistant coach Doug Schoenly said. "They are doing things we've wanted them to do."

Eight members of the team represented Penn State in Wisconsin for the Big Ten Singles Tournament from Jan. 16-18. Seven of the eight won at least one match, with freshman Chris DeStefano winning three matches to reach the finals of the seven-and-eight flight consolation, losing to Purdue's Laith Al-Agba in two sets (6-3, 7-6).

The team's overall record at the tournament, won by Purdue's Jason Marshall, was 11-16.

Last weekend the Lions were in action again at Princeton. Sixth-ranked junior Marc Dorfman advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Joe Green from Harvard (6-3, 1-6, 6-3), before getting knocked off by Clemson's fourth-ranked Josh Goffi (6-2, 6-4).

"Dorfman had a couple good matches," said Schoenly. "He's playing more aggressive, which will help him and us in the Big Ten."

Freshman Jamie Gresh defeated Princeton's Ahn Ahn Liu (6-4, 3-6, 6-1) before bowing out to seventh-ranked Steve Millerman of Columbia (6-4, 5-7, 6-0). Millerman would later lose in the finals against Princeton's Kyle Kliegerman (6-4, 6-2).

"(Gresh)'s played well so far," said Schoenly. "He played tough against Millerman."

"I played pretty well," said Gresh. "The first two sets (versus Millerman) were even, I just ran out of gas in the third set. I need to eliminate the weaknesses and adjust to the competition."

The Lions will begin match play on Valentine's Day, facing Big Ten foe Ohio State at 1 p.m. Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.

They kick off their home schedule the weekend after in non-conference action, hosting American Feb. 20 and Toledo Feb. 21.

Early home matches will take place inside the four-court Penn State Tennis Club. As the weather warms up and all the snow melts, the Lions will move outside to the brand-new Sarni Tennis Center, a $2.3 million facility with seven outdoor courts, stadium seating for 1,000 fans and an extensive clubhouse with locker rooms, meeting rooms and a racket-stringing area.

Schoenly is looking forward to a competitive Big Ten season, with eight of the 11 teams in the conference ranked in the top 75.

"The Big Ten is tough and getting tougher," he said. "There have been some good early results in the conference. We have a team with both youth and experience, but it's tough to tell. Matches can come down to one or two matches."

"It's a tough conference," said Gresh. "But we can be in the hunt if we perform like we know how to."

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Updated: Monday, February 08, 1999  10:30:42 PM  -4
Requested: Friday, September 05, 2008  8:35:42 AM  -4
Created: Wednesday, May 07, 2008  6:25:56 PM  -4