Falcons Open Spring Season This Weekend
Jan. 28, 2010
The Air Force men's tennis team opens its 2010 spring schedule this weekend with a pair of road matches. On Friday, Jan. 29, the Falcons face the University of Denver at 7 p.m., followed by a match at Northern Colorado in Greeley on Saturday, Jan. 30 at noon.
The match against Denver marks the first dual match for new head coach Lt. Col. Dan Oosterhous, who took over the reins of the Falcons last fall. Oosterhous replaced Rich Gugat, who coached the Falcons for more than 35 years before his retirement in October.
The Falcons had a successful fall season, with freshman Lance Wilhelm posting a team-best 7-5 singles record. Wilhelm is slated to play No. 1 singles for Air Force this weekend.
Here is the 2010 season preview:
A new era begins this season for the Air Force men's tennis program. For the first time since the bicentennial, someone other than Rich Gugat will be the head coach of the Falcons. Lt. Col. Dan Oosterhous, a 1993 graduate of the Academy, took over the program in October of 2009 after Gugat announced his retirement in September.
Oosterhous is one of the best tennis players to graduate from the Air Force Academy. He is fifth on the Academy's career list with 56 wins at the No. 1 singles position and second on the career list with 57 victories at the No. 1 doubles position. As a senior, Oosterhous posted an outstanding 22-3 singles record at the No. 1 position, the fourth best single-season winning percentage (.880) at that spot in program history.
As co-captain, he led the Falcons to a phenomenal 25-2 dual match record in 1993, the best mark in the 53-year history of Air Force tennis. That season he earned his third team MVP award, one of just seven players in the program to win the award at least three times. He was also selected to the all-conference team in each of his four seasons at AFA and received the Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award for Region VII.
The new coach inherits a very experienced team this season, with seven of the top eight players back from last season and adding a mix of talented newcomers, Oosterhous in looking forward to the challenge of his first head coaching experience and will team with Capt. Tyler McClung, who is in his second season as the assistant coach.
Leading the way this season are seniors Austin Francis and Brett Rodgers. Francis held down the No. 1 singles spot for the majority of the '08-09 campaign and won seven matches at that position. Francis enters his final season with 27 career singles victories. Rodgers, meanwhile, played most of the season at the No. 3 singles spot and captured a team-high 15 doubles wins including a 13-7 overall mark and 12-6 record at No. 2 doubles with Taylor Soster. James Tomlin rounds out the senior class after seeing most of his action at the Nos. 5 and 6 singles positions last season.
Soster, one of three juniors on the squad, won 10 singles matches last spring after not playing in the fall of 2008 due to an injury. He finished the spring campaign at 10-13, playing the majority of his matches at No. 4. He and Rodgers had an impressive 2009 fall season, posting a 7-4 record and winning four of five doubles matches at the ITA Mountain Region Championships in October, including a thrilling 9-8 decision over Mountain West Conference foes Phil Anderson and Carl Ho of New Mexico. Johnny Buckingham and Alex Beaussart also return for their junior campaigns. Buckingham played in 17 of the team's 25 dual matches for singles last season and posted a 7-6 dual match doubles record, while Beaussart played five matches at No. 6 singles.
Sophomore Mike Tope is the lone second-year player on the squad for the spring. Tope played in one match last season as a freshman and was named a scholar-athlete by the Mountain West Conference.
The freshman class entered the Academy with high hopes from the coaching staff and their play during the fall did not disappoint, as three of the four that played during the fall posted a winning singles record. Lance Wilhelm (Gig Harbor, Wash.) led the team with seven victories and won three of his four matches at the Region Championships. Wilhelm won the Washington 3A state championship as a senior at Peninsula High School. Stephen Katrein (Dallas, Texas) won four matches this past fall and paired with Francis for a 6-5 doubles mark, including a 3-1 record at the Lobo Balloon Fiesta Classic in Albuquerque, N.M. Katrein was a two-time district champion at Richardson High School and ranked 27th in the state of Texas for boys 18-and-under category.
Vinni Lodolo (Arcadia, CA) went 3-1 in singles this fall and advanced to the semifinals of the "B" flight at the Lobo Balloon Fiesta Classic. Prior to joining the Falcons, Lodolo was a four-time all-league selection at St. Francis High School and won the Mission League singles championship as a junior. Sam Barnes (Katy, Texas) had a 3-2 record during the fall season and was 2-2 in doubles with Lodolo. Barnes was a two-time district doubles champion at Cinco Ranch High School and led his team to a district championship and regional runner-up finish as a senior.
Kschristopher Anda (Whittier, Calif.) and Sean Hoang (Lakewood, Colo.) round out the list of Air Force newcomers for the 2009-10 campaign. Anda posted a career singles record of 58-1 at California High School and was named tennis player of the year by the Whittier Daily Newspaper, while Hoang earned two first-team all-conference selections at D'Evelyn High School and was named MVP of the Jeffco League as a senior.
The 2010 spring season begins on Saturday, Jan. 29 at the University of Denver. The Falcons host MWC opponents BYU (April 1), Utah (April 3) and New Mexico (April 24) this spring. The MWC Championships begin on Wednesday, April 27 in Las Vegas, Nev.