Photo Credit: Goucher College Athletics
Article by Will Pitts
In the 2016-2017 season, the Goucher College men’s tennis program brought pride to the school by winning their second consecutive Landmark Conference title. This year, the Gophers are poised for a three-peat. After sweeping a Saturday double-header at home last week against Harford and St. Mary’s and victory against regionally ranked Ursinus College yesterday, Goucher’s overall record stands at 11-2. While they have yet to take on a team from within the conference, the Gophers are the first Landmark team to reach double digit wins.
With the school having risen to the status of Division III tennis powerhouse, the players could give credit to only one man.
“It’s definitely all due to Coach [Brendan] Kincaid,” said sophomore Frankie Mullinix. “His recruiting…his coaching…he was the one who brought me here. He’s a great coach with a lot of experience, and I think that all the program’s success can be attributed to him.”
Kincaid has recruited a roster stacked with talent. For the past three consecutive weeks, the Landmark Conference Men’s Athlete of the Week award has gone to a member of the Goucher tennis program, with Tetsuya Ota, Jack Hodges, and Slade Dumas all taking home the trophy. Dumas was recognized for going undefeated in the Gophers’ dominating doubleheader on Saturday, winning in all six sets he played across both matches.
During spring break, the team faces one of the toughest tests of the season. From March 20-23, they will travel to Hilton Head, South Carolina to play three matches at Spring TennisFest. Organized by the Professional Tennis Registry, the Spring TennisFest is a week-long gathering of over 100 NCAA Division III and NAIA programs from around the country – meaning the Gophers will take on opposition from far beyond the Mid-Atlantic.
On their stay in South Carolina, Goucher will play five matches in four days, beginning on Tuesday the 20th when they take on Carleton College (Northfield, MN). The next day, they play a doubleheader, facing Carroll University (Waukesha, WI) and the Savannah College of Art and Design, the latter just under 100 miles from the facility. After a rest day, the Gophers will finish their stay at Hilton Head with another doubleheader, this time against Brewton-Parker College (Mount Vernon, GA) and the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN).
For the Gophers, however, the trip to Hilton Head represents more than a set of games to be played.
“Every spring break, it’s a big part of the year,” said Mullinix. “It’s right in the middle of the season. We’re just starting to get rolling. The freshmen are 100% accustomed to everything that’s going on. Spring break is mostly a bonding experience, the matches are secondary.”
If Goucher can successfully navigate this roadtrip, they are assured of a place in the four-team conference championship tournament, barring a total late-season collapse.