Falcons Open 2011 Campaign at DU Invitational
Sept. 22, 2011
The Air Force men's tennis team opens its 2011-12 campaign this weekend at the University of Denver Invitational. Action begins on Friday, Sept. 23 and will conclude on Sunday, Sept 25.
Head coach Dan Oosterhous enters his third season as the program's head coach. He has led the Falcons to two 10-win seasons during his tenure at Air Force.
The Falcons will send nine players to the tournament, led by two-time reigning team MVP junior Lance Wilhelm. Joining Air Force and Denver at the tournament are Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas Tech. Nebraska and Texas Tech are each brining four players and will combine as one team for the weekend. Here is the event format and schedule:
Saturday, Sept. 24
Sunday, Sept. 25
For updates throughout the tournament, please check the men's tennis page at www.goairforcefalcons.com.
Here is the 2011-12 season preview:
Head coach Dan Oosterhous enters his third season at the helm of the Air Force men's tennis team in 2011-12. Oosterhous, a 1993 graduate of the Academy, guided his team to its second consecutive 10-win season last year. The Falcons opened the campaign with an impressive 8-2 mark, including a dominating 6-1 victory over Army for AFA's first-ever win at West Point and three wins over regionally-ranked teams. During the MWC portion of the slate, Air Force had its best-ever result by winning two singles matches against conference runner-up TCU and won the doubles point against San Diego State for first time in 14 years.
Oosterhous lost two seniors to graduation, Taylor Soster and Alex Beaussart. Soster left the program after winning 60 doubles and 40 singles matches in his career. Soster posted one of AFA's two singles wins against an MWC opponent last year. Beaussart, meanwhile, will join the team as an assistant coach in '11-12.
Leading the way this season is junior Lance Wilhelm, the team's two-time reigning MVP. Wilhelm finished last season with 12 overall singles wins, including 10 at the No. 1 spot, and played great against the top players in the MWC, pushing four of them to a third-set tie-breaker. The highlight of his season was a dominating, 6-0, 6-3 victory over 74th-ranked Arthur Surreaux of New Mexico State for his first win over a nationally ranked player. In doubles, Wilhelm was ranked No. 7 in the Mountain Region in doubles with Andy Jackson last fall. They went 12-8 during the season, including an 8-6 mark at the No. 1 spot.
Senior captain Michael Tope is back for his fourth season in '11-12. Tope, a local product from Colorado Springs, played five singles and three doubles matches last year and was named a scholar-athlete by the Mountain West Conference for the third consecutive year for having a cumulative GPA over 3.5.
Sam Barnes and Stephen Katrein are also back for their junior season. Both players saw limited action as sophomores and hope to crack the top six this season. Junior Vinni Lodolo also returns for his junior campaign after sitting out last season.
The sophomore class met all expectations last season as freshmen. Alex Grubbs and Jackson led the way, posting 31 and 27 overall victories, respectively. Grubbs led the team with 17 overall and 11 dual singles victories, including eight wins at the No. 4 spot. He tied for second on the team with 14 overall doubles wins, was third with nine dual wins and was one of only two Falcons to win a MWC singles match, defeating Daniel Sanchez of TCU, 6-2, 6-4, at the No. 4 spot.
Jackson, meanwhile, received the team's Lightning Bolt award for the most dual match wins with 21. He won a team-best 16 doubles matches, including 12 dual matches, all with Wilhelm. Steven Young also had a productive first season, finishing second on the team with 15 overall singles wins and tied for second with 10 dual match wins, including a 6-4 mark at the No. 6 position. He had an outstanding fall campaign, advancing to the finals of the UNM Balloon Fiesta Classic before losing in a third-set tiebreak. Young won six doubles matches, including two against MWC opponents with Wilhelm (TCU @ No. 2 and Utah @ No. 1). For his efforts, he received the team's Most Improved Player award and was named to the Mountain West all-academic team.