2010 Winter sports previews

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January 26, 2010

12:29 AM

Men’s Tennis
by Wesley Stukenbroeker

For Head Coach Peter Daub the goals are the same every year: compete with opponents, improve as the season progresses, play the best tennis during the end of the year and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Last year, however, the team was unable to check off the last item on that list. It dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 decision against VCU in the CAA semifinals, finishing the season 16-14 (3-1 CAA).

“I don’t measure the success of a season by the number of wins,” Daub said. “We always want to make the NCAA tournament.”

The Tribe has been working hard to do just that. A vigorous workout schedule, combined with fall practices and tournaments, has kept the athletes busy throughout the offseason.

“Coach Daub has been focusing mostly on having a positive attitude and competing with opponents,” senior Keziel Juneau said.

The team returns four singles starters and five doubles starters, led by Juneau and senior Richard Wardell. Wardell was plagued by injury last season but came up big in the CAA tournament. Junior Sebastien Vidal is coming off a breakout season in which he went 22-10 in singles competition.

So far, the College is off to a strong 5-3 start, remains undefeated at home. Catch them at the McCormack-Nagelson Tennis Center at 5 p.m. on Friday when they match up against East Tennessee State.

Key contributor: Keziel Juneau

After a 2009 season in which senior Keziel Juneau was ranked 103rd nationally and was named First-Team All-CAA in both singles and doubles, he remained dissatisfied by the team’s loss in the CAA tournament.

“My season was pretty good last year,” Keziel said. “But obviously I was disappointed with how the team finished.”

Juneau has continued developing his typically dominant serve and forehand, but is concentrating especially on his backhand, a part of his game that he knows could use improvement.

While Juneau has spent a considerable amount of time working on his technique, he also looks forward to the less competitive aspects of colligate tennis, such as the various road trips associated with the team’s schedule.

“Spring break is always fun,” Juneau said. “This year we are going to Athens, Ga.”

While Juneau takes time to enjoy the leisurely aspects of playing for Tribe tennis, his focus remains fixed on guiding the College to the NCAA tournament.

Women’s tennis
by Travis Triggs

After finishing last year at no. 49 in the country and falling in the semifinals of the CAA tournament in an injury-ridden campaign, William and Mary (2-1, 0-0 CAA) women’s tennis program, under second-year head coach Meredith Geiger-Walton, faces high expectations for the upcoming season. The young squad returns after a dedicated offseason regimen with four new freshmen and its eyes on the CAA crown.

“As a team, the theme this year is ‘energy, cohesion, and belief,’” Geiger-Walton said.

The Tribe returns three-time First-Team All-CAA senior Ragini Acharya, All-CAA senior Carmen Pop, redshirt junior Lauren Sabacinski and sophomore Katie Kargl. The four were appointed by Geiger-Walton to a leadership council to head the team this season.

“All four of us are very different,” Pop said. “We form a very strong leadership council.”

The Tribe will see a tough schedule featuring 16 matches against nationally ranked opponents.

“Our big challenge this year will be handling the ups and downs of the season,” Sabacinski said. “We’re relatively young, so we’ll need to adapt as a team in order to have success.”

The College, which surprised no. 13 Texas last season, will look to reprise its upset role this season in highlight matches against no. 1 Duke and no. 5 Notre Dame in Puerto Rico over spring break.

Key contributor: Ragini Acharya

Senior Ragini Acharya will fill the no. 1 slot for the singles and doubles squads this year. Acharya enters the year as a three-time First-Team All-CAA singles and a two-time First-Team All-CAA doubles player. She is likely to reach the College’s all-time top 10 in career singles wins by the end of the year. She will also look to add to her legacy, teaming up with junior Lauren Sabacinski in doubles action. The Tribe’s success this year will be heavily dependent on both Acharya’s on the court efforts and off the court leadership.

Men’s gymnastics
by Mike Barnes

Although it might seem like a tall order to eclipse a 2009 season that featured a variety of accolades, including a USA Gymnastics National Collegiate Championship, a third place finish in the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) and the designation of National Academic Championship Runner Up, the Tribe will look to continue its winning ways in 2010.

In his 37th season at the College, Head Coach Cliff Gauthier aspires to guide the Tribe to a repeat performance as USAG national champions, which would be the College’s 14th USAG Championship in 17 years. The 2010 squad features a lot of talent, including several highly touted incoming freshmen.

“We would like to win the USAG National Colligate Championship again, and maybe we can win some national [individual] titles there,” Gauthier said. “We will then try to get as many guys into the [USAG] top six as we can, which would make them All-Americans.”

Additionally, Gauthier would like to pilot the Tribe to an appearance in the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, a distinction the 2009 squad missed by mere fractions of a point.

Key contributor: Derek Gygax

In order to accomplish those goals, the College will need another strong year from senior co-captain Derek Gygax.

The reigning USAG Colligate All-Around Champion, Gygax is optimistic about the 2010 season and likes the Tribe’s chances to capture a national championship.

“We are looking talented, we are looking good, we just have to get working harder, and start pulling things together,” Gygax said. “I think we are going to do pretty well as long as we can keep it up, everyone should be the best they can be by the time the ECAC season comes around.”

Women’s gymnastics
by Jack Lambert

The Tribe women’s gymnastics team begins the year with 13 gymnasts, the smallest team Head Coach Mary Lewis has ever fielded in her 16 seasons. Due to their small numbers, Lewis knows the key to the team’s success this season will rely on the Tribe’s execution.

“Fortunately we have a couple of kids who do all-around, which helps if you have a small team,” Lewis said. “We need to make sure that what they are doing when they perform are skills that we know they can do and do well.”

Leading the Tribe will be senior co-captains Ali Medeiros and Jen Stack. Medeiros and Stack both compete on the uneven bars, an event in which Lewis expects the Tribe to show well in this season. Lewis also has six gymnasts who can compete in the all-around event, led by junior Teenie Beck and sophomore Kristen Milardo.

Milardo, a USAG Collegiate First Team All-America last season, enters the season looking to build on an impressive freshman campaign in which she was honored as the ECAC Rookie of the Year.
“[Milardo] has upgraded her skills on beam and we’re hoping to be adding a new dismount in on bars, probably at the earliest by midseason,” Lewis said.

Despite a small team though, Lewis said the goal this year remains the same for the Tribe.

“There are two really big goals, to win the conference title, the ECAC’s, and the USAG’s,” Lewis said. “My comment to them is always if you did your best, and you know you did your best, no one can ask for more from you.”

Key contributors: Christina Beck

Covering Teenie Beck requires strict adherence to the first rule of journalism: always double-check names.

“Oh, no one calls her Christina. You’d actually be better off referring to her as Teenie,” Head Coach Mary Lewis said of her junior gymnast. “I think she’s going to have a breakout year for us.”

As a freshman at Penn State, Beck posted career highs above 9.800 on the vault bars and floor. Beck will compete in the all-around for the Tribe and, with the chance to qualify for regionals, will definitely play an un-tiny-like role in William and Mary’s success this season.

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