VCU men’s tennis participated in their opening tournament of the fall season on Sept. 14 at the Duke Fab Four Invitational in Cary, North Carolina.
The tournament, which featured some of the top teams on the East Coast, was highlighted for the Rams by the performance of sophomore Michael Voscek, who reached the semi-finals of the White Singles draw after defeating junior Alex Gornet from the University of Louisville in three sets and Elon University’s Alex Lindgren in two sets. Voscek was defeated by University of Kentucky junior Beck Pennington in the semi-final, and North Carolina State University sophomore Ian Dempster in the consolation match which was enough to earn Voscek a fourth place finish in his draw.
Last year in the Duke Fab Four Invitational, Voscek reached the finals of the Black singles draw. The tournament was played under double-elimination rules.
Redshirt junior Joseph Cohen and freshman Toni Batlle also represented the Rams in the doubles portion of the tournament, winning the consolation draw and defeating NC State’s duo of junior Simon Norenius and senior Austin Powell in the final of the back draw.
The Rams are returning five players for the fall 2014 season. This group includes senior Nick Jones, who alongside Cohen will be expected to lead men’s tennis this year. The pair were recognized this month by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) as a top-50 duo in the preseason rankings despite not having played a match together yet.
Last season, the Rams secured a second place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference after losing to George Washington University in the final of the conference tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia bringing an end to their 15-13 season. However, a duo of then-senior Alexis Heugas and Jones were able to make a run to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Doubles Championship in May.
Returning for his 25th year as VCU head tennis coach is Paul Kostin. Kostin has been named United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) mid-Atlantic coach of the year 12 times during his tenure at the helm of the men’s tennis program.
Kostin is no stranger to the changes a new season can bring, but is hoping that this season is not accompanied by the injury problems that the team was plagued with last year.
“We performed well last year but were a bit unlucky with a couple of injuries to players,” Kostin said. “We’re hoping that we don’t have the same problems this year and that some of our new players can come through.”
Up next for the Rams is a continuation of tournament play in the fall season as VCU travels to Charlottesville to compete in the Univesity of Virginia ranked one plus one tournament on Sept. 21.