Patriot League Tennis NCAA Tournament Previews

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Sophomore first-team All-League selection Margaret Iliev and Army head to No. 8 seed Alabama in the NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament Friday.
Sophomore first-team All-League selection Margaret Iliev and Army head to No. 8 seed Alabama in the NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament Friday.

May 10, 2012

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – The NCAA Tournament gets underway this weekend, with the Army women and the Navy men’s tennis teams looking to make some noise and Patriot League history.

Upcoming Schedule
Friday, May 11
NCAA Women’s Tennis Tournament – First Round
Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Army at No. 8 Alabama, 5 p.m. | Interactive Bracket

Saturday, May 12
NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament – First Round
Gainesville, Fla.
Navy at No. 12 Florida, 12 p.m. | Interactive Bracket

In addition to the two squads getting ready for the national tournament, each had a player honored with a monthly award Thursday. Navy’s Calvin Mark was named Patriot League Men’s Tennis Player of the Month of April, while Army’s Natalie Allen garnered the Women’s Tennis Player of the Month honor. Both are freshmen, and both were instrumental in their respective teams’ success last month.

Army punched its ticket first by winning the Patriot League Women’s Tennis Tournament at Lehigh. The second-seeded Black Knights won three matches, including the championship bout April 22 against rival Navy, to claim their eighth consecutive League crown and advance to the national tournament. Allen was named the Co-MVP of the Tournament, and earlier this week she added Rookie of the Year and second-team All-Patriot League honors. Army led with five All-League selections and swept the major awards, with Jamila Paul (Player of the Year) and Paul Peck (Coach of the Year) joining Allen as trophy recipients.

Navy, which won four straight Patriot League Men’s Tennis titles from 2007-10, once again climbed to the top of the mountain with a championship victory over defending champion Army on April 29. The Mids claimed their ninth League championship, all of which but one have come under John Officer, who was named Men’s Coach of the Year. Mark garnered the Tournament MVP award after winning the clinching matches in Navy’s semifinal and championship victories in the tournament, and he added first-team All-League and Rookie of the Year honors this week.

Army and Navy are seeking to claim the first victories by a Patriot League team in the NCAA Tournament.

Should the Black Knights advance, they would take on the winner of the Oklahoma State-Georgia Tech match Saturday at 1 p.m. If Navy defeats the Gators, the Mids would face either Harvard or Virginia Tech Sunday at 2 p.m. in Gainesville.

In another note of history, the Bucknell doubles tandem of Gregg Cohenca and Evan Zimmer earned the League's first doubles automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships. Cohenca and Zimmer went 20-5 during the course of the year, including a 10-2 mark at No. 1 in the spring. The pair broke into the top 60 nationally in mid-March, making them the highest-ranking Bucknell duo in recent memory. As of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) April 24 poll, they were 68th in the country.

Cohenca and Zimmer will compete in the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships beginning May 23. All competition is slated for the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.


CALVIN MARK, NAVY Fr., Union City, Calif.
Mark combined for a 6-2 mark in April, going 3-1 at each singles and doubles during the month. His first competition of the month came April 14 when he logged a 6-2, 7-6 (3) win over Army freshman Alex Van Velzer. He added a pair of straight-sets wins in the Patriot League Tournament, picking up the semifinal-clinching point with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Bucknell’s Evan Zimmer before securing Navy’s fifth League title in six years with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Van Velzer again in the championship match. Mark played all four of his doubles matches for the month at No. 1 with Peter McDonald. Two of their victories came against Asika Isoh and Henry Jang-Milsten of Army, including an 8-6 win in the League championship bout.

NATALIE ALLEN, ARMY Fr., Shoreline, Wash.
Allen has won nine straight matches, including all eight during the month of April and all seven against Patriot League opponents. She logged three straight-sets victories in the Patriot League Tournament last month, picking up wins against Holy Cross, Colgate and Navy en route to helping the Black Knights claim their eighth consecutive League crown and accompanying NCAA Tournament berth. She was the first Army player in 11 years to win three singles matches at the League tournament. Allen was named the Co-Tournament MVP and brings a 29-7 singles record into the NCAA postseason. She’s 21-3 in dual matches this season, while her 29 overall wins are the most by a Black Knight since 2004-05.

OLIVIA RAUH, COLGATE Fr., Washington, D.C.
Rauh was 5-1 at singles for the Raiders, all at the No. 6 flight, with four of those victories coming against Patriot League opponents. She picked up a 6-0, 6-0 win over Lafayette’s Lauren Gibbons in the quarterfinals of the League tournament April 20, helping to send Colgate to the semifinals for the sixth straight year.

ROMMEL VERANO, ARMY So., Edinburg, Texas
Verano combined for an 8-1 mark in both singles and doubles, with a 6-1 ledger across both competitions against Patriot League opponents. All four of his singles wins for the month came in straight sets, including a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Lehigh’s Andrew Krentz and a 6-1, 6-3 triumph against Navy’s Nicholas Gutsche in the Patriot League Tournament. His only singles loss of the month came April 14 at Navy to Gutsche in three sets in a match where he was suffering from debilitating cramps. He was forced to serve underhand through much of the match.

Katten was nearly unstoppable in doubles competition with partner Evan Zimmer throughout the month of April. The tandem went 8-1, with their only loss an 8-5 decision to Colgate in the quarterfinals of the League tournament. The two rebounded for an 8-3 win the next day over Navy in the semifinals, though the Bison ultimately lost the contest. Katten was also 3-1 in regular-season matches against League opposition during the month.

Patriot League NCAA Tournament Notebook

Seven-time defending Patriot League champion Army entered this year’s League tournament in unfamiliar territory as the second seed, but the Black Knights took care of business with three victories to capture their record eighth-straight League crown. Freshman Natalie Allen shared the Tournament MVP honors with junior Erin Colton. It was Colton who picked up a three-set victory at No. 1 singles over Navy’s Darien Sears to clinch Army’s 4-1 win over Navy in the championship final.

The Navy men saw their four-year run at the top of the Patriot League come to an end in last year’s tournament semifinals, but the Mids roared back in 2012 with a 5-0 mark in League play during the regular season to capture the No. 1 seed. With the tournament taking place in Annapolis, Md., the Mids had the benefit of the top seed and zero travel. They defeated Bucknell in the tournament semifinals before capturing a 4-1 victory over defending champion Army in the title match April 29. Freshman Calvin Mark was named the Tournament MVP after winning the clinching matches in both tournament wins. Navy captured its ninth Patriot League crown, one shy of Army’s League-leading 10.

The Army women led the way with five All-League selections, while the Navy men were tied for the most with three on the men’s side when the squads were announced earlier in the week. In addition, the Mids picked up two of the three major awards, with Calvin Mark (Rookie of the Year) and John Officer (Coach of the Year) capturing awards. Army swept the major awards in women’s tennis, with Natalie Allen being named Rookie of the Year, Jamila Paul Player of the Year and Paul Peck Coach of the Year. All three of Navy’s All-League selections made the first team in Mark, Marcus Rebersak and Peter McDonald. Paul, Erin Colton and Margaret Iliev were first-team selections on the women’s side, while Allen and Della Taylor earned second-team recognition from the head coaches.

The Patriot League’s academic awards in men and women’s tennis were announced earlier this week, with each champion featuring one student-athlete on the Academic All-League squad. Army’s Jamila Paul, a sophomore who garnered the Player of the Year nod and first-team All-League status, was named Academic All-League, while Navy junior Nicholas Gutsche earned Academic All-League laurels on the men’s side.

The Navy men, who are making their fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last six years and sixth overall as Patriot League champion, are headed to Gainesville, Fla., for the second time and first since 2008. The Mids fell 5-0 to the Gators that year in the first round. In this year’s tournament Florida is seeded No. 12.

Women’s champion Army is making its first trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and will face No. 8 seed Alabama in the NCAA’s first round. The Black Knights are making their eighth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and their first voyage to Tuscaloosa as the League’s representative. The Patriot League champion traveled to California six times in seven years from 2004-10, but Army’s trip to Alabama is the second straight season in which the League titlist is not headed to the West Coast. The last such back-to-back stretch was 2002-03.

Lehigh junior Andrew Krentz and Holy Cross senior Emily Marr were honored earlier this week as the Patriot League Scholar-Athletes of the Year in men’s and women’s tennis, respectively. Krentz, who became Lehigh’s first Scholar-Athlete of the Year since Ty Esler in 2004, owns a 3.94 cumulative grade-point average working on an integrated degree in engineering and arts and sciences. He’s a multi-year Dean’s List member who has achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA in three semesters at Lehigh. Krentz was 12-8 in singles and 10-10 in doubles matches this season for the Mountain Hawks. Marr is the first Crusader named Scholar-Athlete of the Year in women’s tennis, and carries a 3.59 GPA while double majoring in psychology and political science. Marr combined for 25 victories this season, including an 11-5 singles record, and helped the Crusaders to an 11-5 dual-match mark in 2011-12, its best in six years.