Jan. 16, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy men's tennis team will open its 2014 dual match season with a pair of contests Saturday at the Tose Family Tennis Center in Annapolis. The Midshipmen will play host to BYU at noon and Saint Francis (Pa.) at 6 p.m.
"We have been practicing hard in preparation for our opener against BYU," said Navy head coach John Officer. "I have seen tremendous improvement in terms of stroke techniques since the fall. We did a lot of work in the out-of-season time on mechanics, and you can see the improvement."
Navy returns four letterwinners from last year's team that posted a 17-12 record during the spring campaign and advanced to the championship match of the Patriot League Tournament. Last season marked the sixth time the Mids advanced to the league final in a span of seven years.
Headlining the list of returning players is Calvin Mark (Jr., Union City, Calif.), who earned First-Team All-Patriot League honors during the 2013 season. Putting together the best record on the team during the 2013 fall season was another returning player, Austin Jones (So., Dallas, Texas), who compiled marks of 7-3 in singles and 7-4 in doubles.
BYU is ranked 45th nationally in the first ITA ranking of the season. Individually, Francis Sargeant is ranked eighth in singles in the Mountain Region, while he and Andrey Goryachkov hold a No. 6 ranking in the region as a doubles team. The Cougars are 2-0 this season after opening the year with wins over Utah State (4-3) and Weber State (5-2). BYU posted a 21-7 record during the 2013 season and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The squad ended last season ranked 41st nationally.
Saint Francis compiled a 7-14 record last season. Included among their losses a year was a 7-0 setback to Navy.
Saturday's match will be the inaugural meeting between Navy and BYU, while the Mids hold a 3-0 edge in their series with the Red Flash.
"Brigham Young was a top-40 team last year and annually produces an excellent product on the court," said Officer. "We will need to play hard on every point and remain positive throughout. We also will need to be ready for a much improved Saint Francis team."
2014 Patriot League Pre-Season Poll
The Mids were tabbed to place second in the Patriot League this year in the pre-season poll of the league's coaches and sports information contacts. Army garnered nine first-place votes and 121 points in all to finish in first place in the voting. Navy received five first-place nods and 109 total points to place second to the Black Knights. Defending league champion Lehigh received the remaining four first-place votes to place third in the tabulation with 103 points.
2014 Pre-Season Poll
1. Army - 121 points (9 first-place votes)
2. Navy - 109 (5)
3. Lehigh - 103 (4)
4. Bucknell - 76
5. Boston U. - 75
6. Colgate - 63
7. Loyola - 50
8. Lafayette - 35
9. Holy Cross - 16
The four-day Patriot League Championship will be held April 24-27 at West Point, N.Y.
Experimental Scoring Debuts
Debuting this weekend across college tennis will be a new experimental scoring format. It will be used by all men's college teams between now and Feb. 17, which is the final day of the ITA Men's Team Indoor Championship. The goals of this new scoring are to speed up play and make the sport more fan friendly.
The changes being made impact the way sets are played in both singles and doubles. Each of the three doubles matches will consist of one set played to six games (as opposed to one set to eight), with no-ad scoring and a tiebreaker used when the score is tied at 5-5 (as opposed to 8-8). Once a team has won two doubles matches, the remaining doubles match shall not be completed.
Each singles match remains a best-of-three set contest, with each set still played to the traditional six games. However, each set will not only utilize no-ad scoring, the tiebreaker for singles sets will begin when the score is tied at 5-5 (as opposed to 6-6). All singles matches will be played to completion unless both coaches agree to do otherwise.
Finally, there will be no warm-up against opponents before the first point is played in either doubles or singles. Players will be expected to warm-up with their own team prior to the scheduled match time. This means if a dual match is slated to begin at 1 p.m., the first serve in the doubles matches will take place promptly at 1 p.m. (as opposed to the teams warming up against each other starting at 1 p.m.).
Dual matches will still consist of three doubles matches followed by six singles matches. A team still needs to win two of the three doubles matches to earn the doubles point, while one point continues to be awarded to the team that wins a singles match. Also, four points will still be needed to clinch the team competition.