Tennis Showing Range

A careful review of the roster of this year’s tennis team could confuse you. Not because the names aren’t familiar-there are, after all, five returning players. It’s not because there are too many players, because there are only eight. What might confuse you, if you are not paying attention, is the questions of whether you are reading a tennis roster or a partial listing of representatives for the United Nations.

The team has players from England, Canada, Russia, Belarus, Slovakia, and Indonesia, as well as a coach from the United States. While the diversity could pose a potential problem for many teams, the men’s tennis team takes it all in stride.

Senior Claudio Halim realizes the positives that arise from having a team that is so diverse.
“It’s good to have people from various cultures,” he said. “It helps others learn about the world.”
Louis Desmarteaux, the team’s senior captain, also believes that the differences in cultures are a benefit rather than a hindrance to the team.

“The diversity on this team is a good thing,” Desmarteaux said. “It’s a unique factor.”

The unique factor will have to pay dividends for a team that has lost two key players. Both Morgan Bauer and David Nylen, who went a combined 28-11 for the team last year, are gone, and as a result, the team will look toward other players to contribute.

Coach Eric Rebhuhn has been at the helm of the team for six seasons, and knows that the loss of the players does not have to be a total negative.
“Losing those players is both a positive and a negative thing,” he said. “It’s negative because we lose them, but it also allows others to prove themselves.”

“The others” Rebhuhn was referring to include the five returning players and also some newcomers. Freshmen Martin Kosut, Derek Wallensteen and junior Artem Vlasenko all represent the fresh faces of the squad.

Kosut is from Slovakia and was a two-time Slovak doubles champion before coming to St. John’s.
Wallensteen, from Canada, competed at the ECAC Division I Invitational Championships last fall and played in fourth singles. He also went 2-1 when he partnered with Tom Green in doubles.
Vlasenko is a transfer student from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. While there, he teamed up with Badr Bouabdellah and was second team All-Southern Conference in third doubles, where he compiled a 17-5 record. He also went 12-11 overall in singles, playing mostly in third singles. As a freshman he was voted second team All-Southern Conference in fourth singles and was the team leader with 20 victories and went undefeated in five matches in fifth singles.

In addition to Desmarteaux, St. John’s returns Tom Green, Claudio Halim, Alex Svetlakov, and Jordan Talbot.

In all, the team is on pace to improve upon last year’s 13-5 record and is looking forward to a productive season.

“The goal for us is to win the Big East Championship and make it to the NCAAs every year,” Rebhuhn said. “Even if we don’t win the Big East, we still would like to make the NCAAs and even if we don’t, it’s not a wasted season because people graduate. Education is very important and discipline off the court translates on the court.”

The team’s discipline has translated into a team grade-point average above 3.4 and last semester saw the team’s average rise to approximately 3.6. The team is also doing as well on the court as it is off the court. So far the team is 1-0 after a 7-0 sweep of Buffalo on Jan. 18. With a 1-0 record and the Columbia Classic coming up on Jan. 26, the team’s immediate future is looking bright.