01/31/12 — MOC men's tennis

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MOC men's tennis

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 31, 2012 1:46 PM

Mount Olive recorded top-three performances on the men's and women's tennis scenes during Conference Carolinas play in 2011.

The next challenge?

The Trojans must maintain that level of success and blend experience with youth on the court this spring. The men return five starters off last year's squad which earned a No. 44 ranking in the season-ending ITA top 50 poll. The women welcome back four starters.

"I truly believe we have two of the most-talented tennis teams Mount Olive has ever had," said second-year MOC men's and women's head coach Kevin Coghill. "To be successful, we will have to work hard, gain experience throughout the year and execute at the end."

The MOC men tossed up the season's first serve today at East Carolina University, while the women begin their 2012 campaign at home Thursday against Francis Marion (S.C.) University.

Coghill hasn't penciled in a starting lineup for the ECU opener, but got a good look at his team during fall preparation. Returner Brahm Moolman combined with Henrik Falkenberg for a doubles championship, and returning starter Gabriel Santana earned a consolation singles title at the Conference Carolinas Fall tournament.

Akio Mariano, newcomer Edgar Bub, Santana and newcomer Rik Wolthuis combined to claim the top two doubles spots at the Methodist University Tournament.

Also back are Diogo Sender, a second-team all-Conference Carolinas pick last season; and Murilo Pelegrino, who played doubles full-time and singles on a part-time basis.

"We competed very well in the fall tournaments," said Coghill. "Since then, we have tried to get in the best shape possible. All of the players have worked very hard."

The Trojan women's tennis team set a single-season record for highest winning percentage (.667) and advanced to the semifinals of the Conference Carolinas tournament in 2011. Marine Becker, a second-team all-conference selection last season; and Pietra Viana return at the Nos. 1 and 2 singles slots, respectively.

Also back are Becker's doubles partner, Patricia Guerdes; and singles standout Noelia Mora. Junior transfer Molly Lentini and freshman Francesca Ceppi are expected to help bolster the Trojans' lineup.

"Our strength is going to be our returning experience (for both teams) combined with our added talent," said Coghill. "Our weakness is going to be our young players. With senior leadership and youthful exuberance, we hope to compete very well this year.

"I hope we can gain some experience early in the year to prepare for the conference tournament."

League coaches tabbed Mount Olive to finish third in each of the men's and women's preseason polls. The Trojan women earned a share of the 2009 regular-season title and finished runners-up to Erskine in the tournament finals that year. The Trojan men claimed the program's lone regular-season crown in 2005.