THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The courts at the Poulson Tennis Center will have a new look this spring for the Cal Lutheran men's tennis team as four returners are welcoming eight incoming student-athletes for the 2017 campaign.
A trio of 2016 team members, Dara Kashani, Michael Sulahian and Lucas Tilly,will be rejoined by Andrew Tufenkian who spent last year at the junior college level, playing at Santa Barbara City College, after participating for the Kingsmen in 2015 as a freshman at CLU.
As sophomores last spring, both Kashani and Tilly assumed increased roles and will act as leaders again this season as the only returning upperclassmen. Kashani played primarily in the No. 2 singles spot and notched five wins while Tilly split time at No. 5 and No. 6 where he also earned five wins. The pair of Kashani and Sulahian played No. 3 doubles together throughout the spring and earned five victories together. Tilly teamed up with Chris Hartman to win eight doubles points at No. 2 for the Violet and Gold a year ago.
In his inaugural collegiate season, Sulahian played at No. 4, 5 and 6 singles through the spring where he collected four wins, including three in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action.
Joining the squad is a talented, eager group of eight including a five freshmen and three transfers.
Bringing experience, the transfer group includes sophomore Ransom Braaten (Chicago, Ill.) who played at Division I Southern Illinois University in 2014-15 and most recently attended Lewis University where he did not play intercollegiate athletics, sophomore Kylel Gillam (St. Louis, Mo.) and junior Josh Legardy (Los Angeles, Calif.) who was the No. 1 player at El Camino Community College last year.
Playing at the collegiate level for the first time in 2017 will be Sebastian Ariza (Weston, Fla.), Johann Dias (Sacramento, Calif.), Jake Haffner (Benton City, Wash.), Carson Skoropada (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) and Austin Wong (Minneapolis, Minn.).
The new group brings with it great expectations.
"We have rebuilt with all of our recruits and have a young, hungry group that is staged to improve as the season goes on," head coach Mike Gennette shared. "There are no limits to their dreams and they worked hard in the off season."
While the challenge ahead is great with 10 nationally ranked opponents throughout the spring, including many from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), the Kingsmen will have the opportunity to play many talented teams both from locally and across the nation.
Ultimately, Gennette, entering his 24th year at the helm of the program, said, "I am super excited to be coaching this group of fine young men. They are all very into the whole program and the future of the program and are a blast to work with day in and day out."
The 2017 season officially gets underway at home on Saturday, Jan. 28 with a pair of community college matches against Cerritos and Cypress at 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively, inside the Poulson Tennis Center.
Roster: 2017 Kingsmen
Schedule: 2017 M Tennis
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