By: Jeff Schneider courtesy of ragincajuns.com
LAFAYETTE, La. – For the second straight season and third time in five seasons at Louisiana head coach Mark Jeffrey has guided the Ragin' Cajun men's tennis team to a 15-plus win season. This year was arguably the toughest for Jeffrey as he had to guide a very young and talented squad with an all-new lineup comprised mostly of underclassmen.
"I would have to say in just completing my fifth year as head coach this group was a real pleasure to coach," Jeffrey said. "They developed and definitely improved through the course of the year. That was a credit to their hard work on and off the court. This group is a special one that built a lot of positives going forward to next year. This was a real building block year with everyone coming back next year and only having one senior on the team coming up for 2013-14 I see a lot of positives for the future".
"We were literally points away from winning our first Sunbelt Conference title this past year. When I took the program over we were at the bottom of the Sunbelt Conference. The past two seasons we have finished in third place among the elite in the Sunbelt Conference. We are now competing for titles, and I see us doing so for many years to come with this group."
The Ragin' Cajuns had many highlights during the season including seeing two players earn All-Sun Belt honors in Rick de Groot and Jake Wynan.
A native of Pekala, Holland, de Groot had a strong junior campaign that saw him post a career-best 14 wins going 13-8 at the No.1 position for the Cajuns.
Paired with teammate Jake Wynan, the duo went 14-7 at number one doubles to garner second-team All-Sun Belt honors. Wynan and de Groot went 2-1 against ranked opponents and ended the season with an 8-4 win over the 67th ranked team of Ben Davis and Victor Cornea of Middle Tennessee.
"I am especially proud of our doubles," Jeffrey noted. "This is without a doubt the highest winning percentage (.683 with a 17-8 record with the doubles point) in my five years of coaching at Louisiana. We also had a .632 singles record which is one of the highest since I have been here."
Sophomore Damian Farinola had a tremendous spring season going 14-4 and ending the year on a four-match win streak.
"I think our assistant coach Jeff Johnson did a great job in helping with our doubles and singles players," Jeffrey stated. "He was instrumental in Damian Farinola's comeback in the spring. I absolutely enjoyed working with Jeff and we really look forward to next year."
The Cajuns saw a number of freshman post good spring performances led by the doubles team of Hunter and Yates Johnson. The twins posted a 13-7 record in doubles, whilst Hunter Johnson posted a 14-7 record in singles.
After starting the season with a 4-5 singles record, freshman Edgar Lopez performed well at No. 2 singles going 13-9 his first campaign.
Jake Wynan was the third freshman to post double-digit wins using a three-match win streak at the end of the season to finish the spring with 10 wins. His play in the Sun Belt Championships earned him all-tournament team honors going a combined 3-0 in the championships.
Like his brother Jake, Jarred Wynan had some tough matches in the beginning but played very well at the Conference Tournament. Jarred beat opponents from nationally ranked North Florida and Rice.
"Special thanks to Jeff Schneider, John Dugas, Heather Fanning for all of their hard work and dedication," Jeffrey added. "Jeff was instrumental in live stats and streaming, John did a great job with hosting the conference tournament and Heather put a lot of hard work into keeping the guys on the court and out of the training room. I also want to thank everyone within the athletic department that works very hard to make all of the above happen."
For updates and info follow the men's tennis team on twitter @CajunMensTennis.