The 2019 season marks a new chapter in the history of the Penn State Altoona men's tennis program. The Lions introduced new head coach Megan Bettwy in January, and she expects to each player to improve individually while benefitting the team as a whole.
Bettwy, a standout player at Hollidaysburg Area High School who went on to play collegiately at Division II Clarion University, enters her first season as a college head coach with expectations of her players putting in the work to get better and grow.
"I am very excited to begin the season and to play our first match. I am looking forward to seeing how players improve from the first day of practice to the end of the season," said Bettwy. "I hope to help them find ways to increase their level of play and broaden their skill sets during matches. I'm excited to watch the team in match play to help determine what is necessary to work on in practice for upcoming competitions."
Penn State Altoona's roster is comprised of four returning players from 2018, as well as five players entering their first years with the squad.
Returning for the Lions are senior Jonathan D'Arcy (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks West), junior Andrew Ung (Upper Chichester, PA/Chichester), and sophomores Logan Kyle (Reedsville, PA/Mifflin County) and Tyler Smolko (Loretto, PA/Penn Cambria).
D'Arcy was a second team All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference selection last season in the No. 5 singles slot, where he posted a 5-2 overall record and a 4-1 mark against conference opponents. Kyle went 4-4 overall in singles, including a 3-3 mark in the No. 6 singles match. Ung and Smolko each played one singles match.
In doubles, D'Arcy and Kyle each posted two wins, while Ung played in one doubles match.
"Jonathan has been playing great in singles competition. He sets up points really well and uses a variety of shots – such as slices, lobs, and volleys – to mix up his game and keep his opponents on their toes," said Bettwy. "Andrew is a solid doubles player with quick hands and movement at the net. Logan will be a strong singles player. He is quick and uses a variety of shots to win points. Tyler will add depth to our lineup."
First-year players for Penn State Altoona are Kirk Eichenlaub (Hollidaysburg, PA/Hollidaysburg), Jimmy Gillespie (Glen Mills, PA/Garnet Valley), Izaak Israel (Caracas, Venezuela/Herzl-Bialik), Jaydan Jacobs (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands/Charlotte Amalie), and Sultan Kul-Mukhammed (Almaty, Kazakhstan/Georgetown Preparatory).
"Many players are showing great potential for the upcoming season. Jimmy has been playing extremely well, especially in doubles play. He has great hands at the net and moves well during doubles," said Bettwy. "Kirk, Izaak, Jaydan, and Sultan will also add depth for us. After the first few practices, I quickly saw the work ethic of our athletes. I know they will continue to work hard to meet their full potential on the court."
Bettwy hopes that each player, regardless of his level of collegiate playing experience, will improve with each match. She hopes that realistic personal and team goals will help set the bar of expectations this spring.
"I expect the team to work their hardest during every practice and match. I would like to see every player make small improvements and growth in their games after each practice and match," she explained. "My overall goal for the team this season is to play our very best tennis each match, and to learn from both the wins and the losses. Every match is an opportunity to scan their strengths and weaknesses. I also want to help these athletes achieve any personal tennis goals they have for the upcoming season."
The Lions come in to 2019 with two matches already under their belts, as the team started its season schedule in the fall with a 6-3 loss to non-conference opponent Marietta College in September and a 6-3 loss to AMCC foe Pitt-Bradford in October.
Penn State Altoona picks up its schedule on Saturday, February 9, when it will travel to non-conference opponent Shenandoah University for a 7:30 p.m. match. After that, the Lions will host two more non-conference foes, as the team plays Geneva College on Saturday, February 23 at 4:00 p.m., as well as Bethany College on Sunday, February 24 at 1:00 p.m.
The month of March holds six matches for the Lions. Penn State Altoona will play home matches against non-conference opponents Waynesburg University (Friday, March 15 at 4:00 p.m.), Frostburg State University (Saturday, March 16 at 1:00 p.m.), and Washington & Jefferson College (Saturday, March 23 at 11:00 a.m.), as well as against AMCC opponent Penn State Behrend (Sunday, March 24 at 1:00 p.m.). The Lions will compete on the road Friday, March 22 at 5:30 p.m. against non-conference Saint Vincent College and Saturday, March 30 at 12:00 p.m. against AMCC opponent Pitt-Greensburg.
Penn State Altoona men's tennis wraps up its regular season schedule with four matches during April. The Lions will host non-conference foe Lycoming College on Wednesday, April 3 at 3:30 p.m. and nearby AMCC rival Mount Aloysius College on Friday, April 12 at 4:30 p.m. The team will travel to play AMCC opponents Medaille College (Saturday, April 6 at 2:00 p.m.) and Franciscan University (Sunday, April 14 at 1:00 p.m.).
Dates, start times, and locations for matches may vary throughout the season, depending on weather. For the most up-to-date information, check the men's tennis team's schedule HERE.