By: Ryan Knarr/The Voice
Take a glance at the Bloomsburg men’s tennis team’s roster this season, and you probably won’t recognize many names. But come the end of the season, you may very well see the Huskies hoisting yet another PSAC championship trophy and competing for the national title in Orlando, Florida.
Following a season which led to a trip to the Sweet 16 at Nationals last year, veteran Head Coach Marty Coyne was faced with the task of replacing four of his six starters, including one of the most polished players in program history – Dan Gal.
What Coach Coyne did was bring in a new trio of players that promises to contribute to the Huskies lineup for years to come. In the fall season, freshmen Mark Schoerder was added into the mix. The biggest addition, however, for Bloomsburg was the mid-season addition of two freshmen Division I transfers, Carlos Reyes and Lee Wexler, both three-star recruits on tennisrecruiting.net.
The addition of these three players to an already strong lineup will mean great depth for the Huskies, but it won’t come without a learning curve for a very young Bloomsburg squad.
“It’s a very talented group we have in place right now, but there will be some growing pains with such a young team,” said Huskies head coach Marty Coyne.
For Reyes, a native of Weston Florida, the road to Bloomsburg went through Northern Illinois University, where he started a year before transferring. For Wexler, from Layette Hill, Pa, it took a semester at George Mason University before deciding he was a Husky.
Add these three freshmen in a lineup with two returning top-of-the-lineup starters in Fernando Perez and Jeff Nuhfer, and the Huskies are very much a favorite to repeat as Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Champions.
“Winning the conference is always at the top of our list along with the goal of making it the final 16 at nationals,” said Coach Coyne.
The Huskies will benefit from senior leadership in Ryan Glubo, who has been in certain situations on the court over the years that should help mentor the young squad.
“Ryan’s our captain,” said Coyne. “He’s been around, he’s heard it, he’s filled a lot of different roles for us and has seen some of the best players here at Bloomsburg, so he can pass that experience on to the next generation.”
“I want to show our young guys that if we stick together as a team nobody can stop us,” said Glubo. “This young group is some of the best guys I could ask for.”
Returning sophomore Alan Hummel will be another key impact player for Bloomsburg, adding some key depth to the lineup as he is both a singles and doubles player.
One team that looks to be an early season rival for the Huskies in the PSAC is Kutztown, who consistently fields a competitive team comprised of international players from all over the globe behind head coach Suresh Ramamurthi. The Golden Bears have added three promising freshmen from India to a lineup that will be very competitive in conference play.
“Historically, they have guys who come in as very talented players, but we are usually able to catch up to them with our work ethic,” said Coach Coyne.
Another twist to this year’s PSAC conference title race will be the addition of a new team, Mercyhurst. The Lakers bring a solid lineup into the conference and could be a challenge to the rest of the PSAC throughout the year.
“Kutztown and Mercyhurst are going to be tough competitors – no question,” said Glubo. “I feel all three of us [teams] have great players, but the thing that will separate us is our work ethic, and how hard we all work on and off the court, and in the end we shall prevail.”
The Huskies will be able to use their annual spring break trip to Hilton Head, SC as a time to work on certain aspects of their games, including solidifying their play in doubles from top to bottom as all three doubles points are crucial in setting the tone early in each and every match.
“This year we are learning how to play doubles,” said Coach Coyne, “It’s an interesting transition.”
The storied tradition and rich history of the Huskies tennis team which continues to this day can be traced directly to coach Marty Coyne who recently picked up his 200th career win as men’s coach with a win in the season opener versus West Liberty State at Oxford Racket Club. Before becoming coach at Bloomsburg, Coyne played for the Huskies and was an eight-time conference champion and All-American selection in 1983. In his years as Head Coach of both the men’s and women’s teams, Coach Coyne has garnered numerous coaching awards at the conference, regional, and national level.
“Coach is one of a kind, said Glubo. “He’s turned me into not only a better player but a better individual and he relates everything to real life situations which prepares us for not only tennis matches, but for the real world. He cares about his players more than any coach does.”
Looking at the upcoming season, the new Husky roster is sure to become household names as Bloomsburg looks to return to the national tournament for yet another year, as well as a spot on top the PSAC podium for the 22nd title in the team’s decorated record.