Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

For the first time in two years, the men’s tennis team will be without the duo of Brian Fitzgerald and Dan Schneider. In contrast to last year, Mason enters the spring 2010 season with a youth-oriented team.
Head Coach Gary Quam returns for his 21st season with Mason.

After being eliminated in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, the team wrapped up its 2009 season with a 5-12 record.

With only three returning players from last year’s squad, the team looks to receive a large contribution from its newcomers. Mason will be headed by sophomore Jorge Osuna and freshman Kevin McMillen at the top.

“Last year, we had an older team — we had a bunch of seniors. Now, we have a fresh team; we don’t have as much experience as last year,” said Osuna of the change entering this season.

Osuna also believes that the recruitment can potentially lead to positive results next year.

“We have really good recruits, so the future seems to be quite promising,” said Osuna.

Osuna served as the team’s lone freshman last year. This year, the team brought in McMillen and five other freshmen.

Osuna and McMillen each led the team with four singles wins in the fall season. At number one, Osuna began the season winning both matches at the Mason Fall Invitational tournament in September.
Last year, Osuna was an immediate impact at the number two position. He posted a 10-9 singles record; in the first-round loss to the Georgia State Panthers in the CAA Tournament, Osuna was Mason’s lone victor. This year, Osuna will have an even bigger role as the team’s top singles player.

Last year, Brian Fitzgerald anchored the top spot in singles, posting a 29-22 overall record in his two years with the team. In addition to losing last year’s number three player, Dan Schneider, to graduation, the team will rely heavily on Osuna and its young core.

McMillen started his collegiate career defeating his opponents from Loyola University and Mount St. Mary’s University at the tournament.
McMillen comes from a program in which boys’ tennis has been a stronghold over the years.

At Mills Godwin High School, he earned all-district honors in each of his four years; in his senior year, he helped the Eagles win the Virginia AAA State Championship.

Starting as the team’s number two player, McMillen will be put in a similar situation as Osuna had been in last year.

In addition to playing at the top two singles spots, Osuna and McMillen will serve as the number one doubles team. The pair had a 2-6 record in the fall.

Despite losing its first five matches, the Osuna/McMillen team won two matches at the Bucknell Invitational in October before falling in the championship match.

Freshmen Patrick Mulquin, Devin Leonard and Sam Coster will also provide a solid foundation to the team’s youth. Mulquin, a four-time All-Gazette selection, led his high school team, Georgetown Prep, to its best season in the past two decades.

Leonard was recruited from Donoho High School in Oxford, Ala. In his four years with Robinson Secondary High School, Coster lost only two matches.

Along with Osuna, the team has two other returning players. Last year, the team had four seniors, including its top doubles pair

Senior Imran Nayeem is the lone representative this year. Last year, he won four matches while playing at the number five and six positions.
Nayeem had a 2-2 record this past fall. Also at the back-end, junior Arjun Sanghvi won nine overall matches last year.

The team played its home opener against the Shepherd Rams in Burke last Saturday. Mason will host its first match at the Robinson Tennis Courts on Mar. 20 against the Delaware Blue Hens.

With seven newcomers on the team, six of which are freshmen, the men’s tennis team will look to use this season as a building block for years to come.