The Emerson Lions men's tennis team continues to prove it is the king of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) jungle. The squad is en route to a fourth consecutive GNAC championship this season, as it remains undefeated thus far (3-0, 2-0 GNAC). The Lions, under the direction of head coach Keith Warner, have been maintaining their royalty.
The Lions' first prey was Wentworth Institute of Technology's Leopards on March 29. The Leopards have been the real test to the Lions so far, as they are the only opponent to have won matches against Emerson. However, Wentworth wasn't able to win enough of them. Emerson trounced the Leopards, 6-3.
Aman Kapur, Varun Kapur, Dave Finn, Ben Thompson and Randy Sollenberger each started off the season strong in singles competition by winning their respective matches. For the doubles competition, the only win came from the Kapur brothers, beating their opponents by one point.
Emerson would go on to win its next two matches 9-0 against Albertus Magnus College and Norwich University. Out of the nine players on the squad, five of them have undefeated records in the singles and doubles competitions.
Aman Kapur, a junior and co-captain, is in front of the pack with six wins and no losses.
Not only do the men have a veteran squad consisting of one senior, four juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen, but they have an interchangeable one as well. Randy Sollenberger, the lone senior and co-captain with Kapur, believes that's one of the reasons for the team's success.
"We pretty much have a set line-up; any guy on the team can play any spot," Sollenberger said. "I think that one of our strengths is our depth."
Although Sollenberger has high expectations for the squad, he said he also keeps in mind that on any given day, any team can be beaten.
"I think we realize the competition we're up against with some of our rivals; some of the stronger teams in the conference," he said. "We realize what we need to do as a team to prepare and to really get our game up to par with what it will take to beat these teams."
But Emerson isn't the only team without novice cubs.
"A lot of these teams have guys that are returning, they're sophomores, juniors," Sollenberger said, remaining optimistic with his approach to matches. "So we've seen them before and we know what kind of game they play and how they match up with us."
Warner said he's proud of his players and how they've been playing, but he doesn't take any team lightly.
"We really respect our opponents," he said. "We need to bring our 'A' game everywhere we go."
The expectation to bring home another championship rests heavily on the minds of Sollenberger and Warner.
According to Sollenberger, "We've kind of set ourselves up for that; anything less than a championship would be a disappointment."
Warner said he could not agree more with his senior captain.
"Randy speaks for all of us," he said. "We enter the season with the expectation to win the conference."
Even with a strong desire to be the best, Warner has his priorities right.
"We're a small D-III college program. We know who we are and where we are," Warner said. "Winning is important ... at any level. We want to represent the university and our families."