LOS ANGELES—The Occidental College men's tennis team kicked off their first season under new head coach Brian Newhall—who is making his second appearance at the helm of the tennis program after focusing solely on basketball for the past decade—and set the tone for a season full of high expectations, with a 7-2 victory at Glendale Community College on Friday.
After dropping the No. 1 singles match and losing a close fought match between the No. 1 doubles teams, Oxy swept the other five singles and two doubles matches to start the season 1-0.
"I was really pleased with our overall effort," Newhall said. "Guys came ready to compete."
It is no surprise that the Tigers were ready for action Friday afternoon.
"On any given day, any of our top eight guys can beat each other," Occidental junior Jordan Brown (San Diego) said. "This makes for very competitive practices where we all push each other. I think this is why we were so well prepared for our match today."
Sophomore Jeremy Shapiro (Scottsdale, AZ) had a "particularly strong day winning his singles match 6-4, 6-3," according to Newhall. "He came back with an outstanding effort, as did the No. 1 doubles, who dropped their hard fought match 9-7."
Despite the losses in the No. 1 slots, Newhall's players put together a strong effort in every match, which is the most important step for his team at this point in the season.
"We are working hard to establish a work ethic within the men's tennis program. Our short term goal is to compete for every point, game, set.
"The long term goal is to become the sixth SCIAC team ranked nationally."
The Tigers can take their first step towards reaching the ITA Top 30 on Monday as they host Brandeis, the first of six teams they will face this season ranked nationally.
"As a team we are really looking forward to our next two matches against Brandeis and Biola," said Brown. "They should be terrific tests and we are all very excited about the challenges they present."
Newhall is also excited to see how his young team will respond to the test of playing a team as skilled as Brandeis.
"Brandeis has a very strong team. They are going to be great preparation for SCIAC play. Top to bottom the SCIAC is the best men's tennis conference in the nation with five teams ranked in the top 25.
"The guys are working very hard. They like each other. They support each other. Things are headed in the right direction. This is a program on the move."
No. 24 Brandeis visits Occidental's home tennis venue, Scholl Canyon Tennis and Golf in Glendale, on Monday Feb. 20 at 3:00 p.m.