Spring teams ready to get started
While every Moraine Valley College athlete anxiously awaits a shift away from cold weather, one Cyclones spring sports team must also deal with a change in leadership.
The men’s tennis squad, long the domain of school athletic director Bill Finn, is now guided by Ben Thompson. Thompson inherits a program that welcomes back four members of the crew that took third in regional play a year ago.
While certainly a credible showing, that finishing spot deprived Moraine of a team berth in the national tournament. The narrow miss is being used as motivation by returning all-region player Tim Stewart (Stagg), as well as fellow veterans Ryan Adamski, Christian Lagunas and Brad Smith (Sandburg). Expected to join them as steady contributors in 2014 are newcomers Kevin Karczynski, Mike Broderick, Bryan Jimenez (Shepard) and Alec Mikes.
“I’m very excited for the season and happy with everyone on the team,” Thompson said. “They put in more work than I asked and have gone above and beyond before the season even started.
“Moraine Valley has competed at the national level and I’m happy to be coaching here. The student-athletes have more intensity and put a priority in playing tennis.”
Thompson, who also coaches girls’ tennis at Providence Catholic High School, gained previous collegiate coaching experience while serving as an assistant at the University of St. Francis. He also plays competitively himself and is ranked 351st nationally in his age group.
Thompson is urging the Cyclones to work hard and play smart. He promotes good conditioning and sound on-court strategies, with an emphasis on getting each player to identify strengths and weaknesses, both in himself and his opponents.
Assuming Moraine athletes stay injury-free, Thompson believes his guys can accomplish big things.
“We’re taking it one match at a time, [but] we’re excited to avenge some regional disappointment from last year,” he said.
It’s a new season and a mostly new Cyclones roster sporting a fresh attitude for 2014.
Although most area teams don’t yet have a useable field, Moraine players have nevertheless pushed themselves in indoor practices and during spring training in Arkansas. It’s a group determined to improve upon a less-than-stellar 2013 campaign.
Kevin Siergiej (Shepard) and Joel Cordova are returning starters on the hill, but whatever success the Cyclones enjoy this spring will depend largely on how quickly several newcomers can assimilate to the college game. Among the more heralded rookies are Shepard graduates Christian Araiza and Matt Schmeski, Brother Rice product Ryan Gyrion, Robert Neylon and Jason Hine. The latter two, however, are currently nursing injuries.
Third-year coach Cole Farmer and assistant Bill Heaney anticipate success once everyone is healthy and Moraine finally gets a few games played.
The Cyclones opened their 2014 season by sweeping a doubleheader from Joliet Junior College, 12-5 and 9-2, last Saturday.