HAVERFORD, Pa. – Coming off a win over nationally-ranked Franklin & Marshall College last spring followed by an outstanding showing at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) 2012 fall regionals, the Fords look ahead with optimism to the 2013 season which opens Saturday afternoon in The Gary Lutnick Tennis & Track Center with a visit from No. 18 Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
Senior captain Kevin Caulfield (Atlantic South Player to Watch, ranked 22nd nationally in singles) leads a veteran team strengthened by the addition of freshmen Luis Acaba (ranked No. 17 in the Atlantic South after reaching the quarterfinals of the fall ITA) and Zack Mason.
Doubles will once again be an important factor in team success, and Haverford's top two teams return intact. Caulfield and Danny Himelstein (No. 1 doubles) have been all-Centennial Conference each of the past two seasons and head into the spring portion of the 2012-13 schedule with a No. 11 preseason regional ranking. Matthew Cebul and Matt Romei are an experienced pairing in the next doubles slot. Acaba will anchor a strong No. 3 pairing looking to challenge upward.
Caulfield and Acaba compose a strong 1-2 punch at the top of the singles lineup, followed by depth supplied by seniors Cebul and Jacob Weisenthal, juniors Andy Dougherty and Romei, sophomore Sloan Millman, and Mason.
A challenging non-conference schedule, which includes three matches in California over spring break, should prepare the Fords -- eighth in the Atlantic South region -- for their Centennial slate and help with the chase to secure a spot in the conference tournament for the sixth time in the seven seasons the Centennial's postseason team playoff has existed.
All three of Haverford's California opponents are ranked within the top 15 of the West region with Pomona-Pitzer College (No. 10) and Whittier College (No. 26) ranked nationally in addition to the regional list. Chapman College, 14th in the West, rounds out the schedule on the West Coast.
In addition to CMU (third in the Atlantic South ratings) and the California schools, four more Haverford opponents appear in the ITA preseason rankings and all are from within the Centennial and Atlantic South region. Johns Hopkins University is seventh nationally and second in the Atlantic South, while Swarthmore College is 23rd in the national poll and seventh in the region. Franklin & Marshall at No. 9 is right behind the Fords within the region and Washington College is just outside of the top-10 at No. 11 in the Atlantic South.
"I am excited by our talent, our depth, the experience of our returning doubles teams, and our strong team spirit and commitment," said head coach Sean Sloan as his team prepares to open the season and square off against the Tartans. "If everyone stays healthy, we have a good chance to be one of the top 30 teams in Division III by the end of the year."