UWF Men's Tennis with National Championship Expectations for 2008
Feb. 15, 2008
PENSACOLA, Fla. - Tennis coach Derrick Racine enters his 11th season as the West Florida head coach after another successful season. Under Racine's commands, the Argonauts have always reached the national championships, and have achieved two national titles (2004, 2005). The outcome of the 2006-2007 season was difficult to take, since the team had higher expectations and goals. Ranked first throughout the whole season, the Argonauts felt short to Lynn University in the national championships to finish the season ranked second in the nation.
With five regular starters returning for the 2007-2008 season, the Argonauts once again have set high expectations and goals as a team. From the 2006-2007 season, the Argonauts only graduated three players, including top singles and doubles player Dante Botinni, and two non-regular starters, Mark McGuigan and Marco Mateucci. McGuigan, the only Pensacola native in last year's roster, enters his first year as an assistant coach and will experience the game from the other side. McGuigan will bring his four-year playing experience from UWF to pass to the current players. Maturity and experience is highly evident on the 2007-2008 roster, as the former rookies have suddenly become seniors. This year the Argonauts count with the experience of five seniors, including four regular starters. Making their Argonaut debut, will be junior transfers who bring experience from their previous schools. Only two freshmen will make appearances in the lineup, one being expected to start regularly.
Diego Zorzi enters his senior year and brings high hopes to the Argonauts. Zorzi is a solid player who had the best overall record of the team in singles and doubles last season. Zorzi played in the second spot in singles and doubles last year. Zorzi has a powerful game and is expected to be an anchor for the Argonauts in the top positions for the 2007-2008 season. Adding experience to the lineup, Nicolas Barrientos also enters his senior year. Last season, Barrientos was an important element for the Argos, playing at the top spot in doubles and third spot in singles. With an all around game, Barrientos finished the season ranked 41st in singles and 1st in doubles with parter Dante Bottini. The members of the 2005 national champion squad and now seniors, Zorzi and Barrientos, are expected to lead the UWF team to another successful year.
Also a senior, Eduardo Cavasotti enters his third season as an Argonaut. Cavasotti has a dominant game from the baseline and good hands on the volleys and is expected to contribute with a successful year. Last season Cavasotti had a solid year playing at the fourth spot in singles and third spot in doubles. This coming season Cavasotti brings maturity to the lineup and is also expected to lead the Argonauts to a successful finish. Also entering his senior year, Luiz Bernard, who has a consistent all around game, is expected to add solid tennis play, as he did in the 2007-2008 season. Bernardi had a great overall record in singles and doubles and will be a great help to the team again. Gui Jasmin, a non-regular starter, also enters his senior year. Last season, Jasmin posted a couple of victories in the bottom spots. This season Jasmin will be fighting for a spot at the bottom of the lineup. Luis Arboleda, enters his junior year after a great season. Arboleda brings high hopes to the lineup as he gains college experience and maturity. The serving bomb has a powerful game and is expected to help the team, not only in doubles, but also in the singles action.
Top newcomers include Carlos Zamora, a freshman from Denmark. Zamora, who has quick footwork and a consistent all around game, will be making his debut as an Argonaut as he is expected to be playing in the top six sinlgles. Jose Ycaza, a junior transfer from TAMU Corpus Christi and an Ecuador native, is expected to have a great impact in the lineup. Patrick Batman, a sophomore transfer from Seminole Community College and a Florida native, is also expected to fight for one spot at the bottom of the lineup. Another top newcomer is Thiago Gomes, a Brazilian native who redshirted last season and is expected to add more enthusiasm to the team. Gomes is a great singles player with a good baseline game, and is also expected to fight for a spot in the bottom of the lineup.
The Argos will open their season against top NAIA force Auburn-Montgomery on February 15th at Montgomery. Following the season opener the Argonauts will have nine more consecutive away matches. The Argonauts begin playing at home on March 13th.
2006-2007 Men's Tennis Season Review:
West Florida entered last season as the third ranked team in the nation in the NCAA Division II rankings. Having seven players and four regular starters from last season returning, the Argonauts were primed to achieve one more NCAA Division II national title, repeating the success of its back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.
West Florida started as the fourth ranked team in NCAA Division II rankings. The Argonauts faced Lander in the season opener and won a tough 5-4 match. West Florida earned a five match winning streak, including a 6-3 win over South Carolina-Upstate. The winning streak came to an end when West Florida fell short against eventual NAIA National champion Auburn Montgomery University.
The Argonauts responded with an eight match winning streak, including victories over NCAA Division II defending champions Valdosta State, and Armstrong Atlantic on road trip matches, and home victories over GSC rivals Alabama-Huntsville, West Alabama, North Alabama, and Delta State. They became the first-ranked Argonauts after the winning streak, only to fall to Division I power Mississippi to end the winning streak. The Argonauts faced the Division I top ten ranked team at the Ralph "Skeeter" Carson Tennis Complex. Playing under NCAA Division I rules, West Florida won two doubles matches to earn the single point lead after doubles action. However, the Argonauts fell short in the singles action, not earning a point, falling to Mississippi 4-1. Despite the loss, West Florida only gained confidence in route to the attempt to earn its third national title.
The response came with a ten match winning streak, including a shutout over GSC rival Ouachita Baptist, a 7-2 victory over top five ranked Drury University, a 5-4 victory over Lynn University, and a 7-2 win over Division I Southeastern Louisiana.
At the Gulf South Conference tournament, West Florida shutout GSC rivals Christian Brothers and Delta State. The end of the ten match winning streak came to an end at the tournament final when the Argonauts fell to big time rival Valdosta State 5-2 to finish its regular season. The top-ranked Argonauts cruised in the NCAA Division II South Region Championship with a pair of victories over Alabama-Huntsville and Delta State. West Florida then advanced to the national championships in Orlando, Fla. In the first match West Florida shutout Abilene Christian to advance to the quarterfinals against South Carolina-Upstate. The Argonauts faced a 3-1 disadvantage in the match, however was able to win four singles matches to earn a spot in the semifinals for the fifth consecutive year.
For the second time during the season West Florida faced Lynn University, however this time the hopes of winning a third national title fell when the eventual NCAA Division II national champion Fighting Knights blanked the Argonauts with a 5-0 score. For the second consecutive year, the Argonauts feel short to the Fighting Knights in the semifinal round, including a 5-3 loss in 2006.
West Florida finished the season ranked second in the NCAA Division II rankings with a 26-4 record and an 8-1 record against GSC opponents. For the fifth time in its history West Florida won more that 25 matches in the season. Despite falling short on reaching their main goal, which was the third national title, West Florida was once again prominent in receiving awards. Junior Diego Zorzi became the first player in GSC history to win back-to-back East Division Player of the Year honors. Zorzi, the 2005 Freshman of the Year, is also just the second two-time winner, following UWF's Radovan Chrz who won in 2003 and 2005. Zorzi finished the season ranked sixth in singles. Senior Dante Bottini was one more Argonaut to be named to the All-GSC East Division team. Bottini was also named the ITA South Region Senior of the Year. He joins Radovan Chrz (2004) as the only Argonauts to win the award. Bottini finished the season ranked ninth in singles and first in doubles. Junior Nicolas Barrientos jumped from last year's second team to also earn GSC honors, being also named to the All-GSC East Division team.Barrientos finished the season ranked 41st in singles and 1st in doubles with parter Dante Bottini. Junior Eduardo Cavasotti also earned back-to-back GSC honors. Cavasotti was named to the All-GSC East Division team, repeating his achievement of the 2006 season. For the fifth time, head coach Derrick Racine was named the ITA/NCAA Division II South Region Men's Tennis Coach of the Year. Racine has totaled a 227-44 (.837) record over nine seasons with the Argonauts. The Argonauts finished the season ranked second in the nation, and expects to return five out of six regular starters for the 2008 season.