Second-year head coach Paul Marcum believes the Bulldogs are ready to make a determined run at winning their 15th Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title outright and making their third straight NCAA Division II Midwest Region appearance this spring. Ferris, which placed 10th in the final 1999 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) NCAA-II Midwest Region Team Rankings, won 13 conference championships from 1982 through 1994.
"We have really added some great players, " Marcum said. "I believe this year's team may be even better than last season's and the guys we're bringing in will help immediately and should play near the top of our lineup. We're anxious to get going and hopefully repeat as conference champions.
"With the talent and quality depth we have, we could be among the top seven teams in our (Midwest) region and perhaps in the top 20 nationally."
Marcum made of the most of his collegiate coaching debut last season by guiding the Bulldogs to the GLIAC Championship title and a share of the conference's overall crown with regular-season league champion Northwood. Furthermore, FSU received an NCAA-II regional berth for the second consecutive season as the Bulldogs concluded the 1998-99 campaign at 17-11 overall, including a second-place mark of 9-1 in the final regular season GLIAC standings.
Two-time All-GLIAC singles champion Martin Krbec heads the lineup of returning players and was rated 22nd nationally in the ITA's NCAA-II singles competition final rankings. Krbec, who ranked fifth among the Midwest Region's top singles players as a sophomore last season, went a team-best 28-6 overall at the number one singles slot while boosting his career singles record to 57-15 overall. He also totaled a 27-7 record at number one doubles, including a 24-7 mark with senior Pat Fisher as the pair placed ninth in the final 1999 ITA Midwest Regional doubles rankings.
Along with Krbec and Fisher, Marcum will rely on seniors John Veit and Matt Vredenburg along with junior Calvin LaForrest to provide leadership. Fisher and LaForrest will look to rebound from somewhat disappointing seasons a year ago to help solidify the lineup. As individuals, Fisher compiled a 10-20 mark primarily at the number two flight while LaForrest went 14-15 overall, but 10-2 in the GLIAC. Meanwhile, Veit and Vredenburg are coming off solid seasons in both singles and doubles flights. Veit, the conference's number six singles champion in 1998, registered a 20-10 singles record to go with a 24-10 doubles mark. Vredenburg proved a solid compliment to FSU's top singles players with a 16-9 performance at the number three flight and wrapped up the campaign at 21-10 overall.
Another known quantity this season is sophomore Nathan Shanks, who assembled a 21-4 overall singles record last year on his way to All-GLIAC Second Team honors. Shanks tallied a 17-4 record at the number six position and went undefeated in 12 league individual matches. Sophomore Matt Cole, who saw some action at number five and six singles last year en route to an 8-2 singles record, also returns.
Marcum bolstered his lineup during the off-season by adding a talented pair in redshirt freshman Jan Talian of the Czech Republic and England's Robbie Todd, who played number one singles for Kalamazoo (Mich.) Valley Community College last year. Talian is expected to contribute immediately near the top of the lineup in singles and doubles while Todd will contend for a starting spot at number three or four singles.
Ferris State will be tested in the fall at the ITA NCAA-II Midwest
Region Mid-American Tournament (Sept. 24-26) in Indianapolis, Ind., and
at the Bowling Green State University Keefe Invitational (Oct. 1-3) in
Bowling Green, Ohio, where the Bulldogs are the only NCAA-II team competing.