Men see improvement over last season, women off to good start

In the heart of Horizon League play, the men’s and women’s tennis teams are looking to make an impact as they head toward the April 28 conference championship.

The men have improved greatly since last season, doubling their win total at the halfway point.

“We are definitely moving in the right direction,” said head coach Aaron Paajanen. “Guys are excited that we can be more successful this year than last year.”

With four seniors – Patryk Koscielski, Kacper Stelmaszak, Chance Conley and Ismail Kadyrov – on a roster of seven, the men have experience and have put themselves in the position to win.

Now they need to go out and secure those matches.

“I think this will be easier to do because they now have a belief that they can win,” said Paajanen. “In years past, there was not always that optimistic attitude of we are going to be able to go out and win.”

That attitude appears to have changed.

Nathan Ponton, a junior typically in the third position, has stepped up this season.

“He’s been playing really well, and his doubles play has improved,” said Paajanen

Ponton has won his last four matches and has proven to be a valuable player.

Paajanen looks for a high level of energy at every match.

Artem Vasheshnikov, a sophomore from Ukraine, has been playing in the number one position.

Sophomore Adam Zychowicz rounds out the squad.

One goal for the men this year is to finally win 10 matches in a season.

Finishing in the top four in the post-season tournament is another goal.

The women are off to 2-2 to start in conference.

Last year after beginning strongly, they struggled, so it is important not to make the same mistake, said Paajanen.

Energy will be key for them, too.

The women’s competition in this conference is much more even so the team that brings more energy could have the advantage in winning the match, he said.

On the women’s team a lot of the players have risen to the challenge.

The lone upperclassmen are seniors Anna Davydova and Nynke Van Der Goot.

The Titans are young, with five players who are freshmen or sophomores: Marie Maitrot, Sara Mitrakovic, Ksenia Providokhina, Iris Thioux and Pauline Van Herck.

The new additions have added an extra factor and contributed to winning tennis, said Paajanen.

Another key factor is the team being healthy.

Last year injuries plagued the Titans, and not everyone could contribute.

The women have the high expectation of winning their league, according to their coach.

They have been close in years past but were never able to capture the title.

The Titans will host Wright State April 15 and Northern Kentucky April 16.