Guilford’s men’s tennis team is hoping history repeats itself.
The Quakers were tabbed third in the 2016-17 Old Dominion Athletic Conference preseason poll and concluded the season one spot above at second in the league. The team advanced to the conference title match for the first time in the program’s history after sweeping Bridgewater College, 5-0, in the semifinal round. They fell to Washington and Lee University in the ODAC championship. The Generals have won eight consecutive ODAC men’s tennis championships and a league-best 36 overall.
In this year’s preseason poll, Guilford ranked second on the ODAC poll behind juggernaut Washington and Lee University. However, the Quakers are looking to once again finish one spot above. And they are in a good position to do so.
The team returns six players from last season’s team, including 2017 ODAC Rookie of the Year Tate Godwin. The sophomore earned First Team All-ODAC laurels in singles, compiling an overall record of 10-12, 6-3 in ODAC play, along with Second Team All-ODAC recognition in doubles with former teammate Mesa Martorell, going 12-10 overall and 6-2 in the league. Godwin’s 22 wins tied for second on the team and he serves as a team captain. Godwin was a member of the 2016-2017 Academic All-ODAC team in his lone season thus far.
Senior Ben Levin also returns as a captain of the Quakers. Levin did not compete with the Quakers last year and returns after playing for the team from 2014 to 2016.
Fellow senior Graham Pearson looks to be a leader on the team as well. The Greensboro native went 7-4 in singles play a season ago and 12-9 in doubles. During the 2016-2017 campaign, Pearson recorded three 8-1 doubles victories with teammate senior Chasen Chacon against crosstown-rival Greensboro College, Randolph-Macon College, and Emory and Henry College. He received Academic All-ODAC recognition last season as well.
Graduation took team captain Levi Bruff ’17 away from the Quakers. Bruff ranked atop the team with 23 total wins. He was 7-1 in singles and 7-2 in doubles in terms of conference play. His 13-8 overall doubles record led the team. While playing doubles, he and Aaron Smedley ‘17 had a 9-3 mark on the season. The .750 win percentage was a team best. Bruff graduated with Guilford’s 2017 English Athletic Leadership award, which is the college’s top athletics honor.
Mason Church ’17, Smedley and Mark Wasilewski ’17 all graduated as well, and a pair of the team’s top players, Mesa Martorell and Jon-Anthony Thomas, transferred from the College.
However, Guilford has already started the season strong with a convincing 7-2 triumph over Montreat College in the fall. They look to be in a favorable position at 1-0 going into the spring.
The Quakers open the spring season tomorrow, Feb. 24, with a home and conference match with Lynchburg College at 2 p.m.