The CMS tennis team has been on the rise over the last few years and 2014 is no exception. The Stags are currently the #1 ranked team in NCAA DIII having moved up from third after a few great wins in the past few weeks. This has been an outstanding year so far, with Skyler Butts having made it to the NCAA finals in the fall portion of the tennis season, and an awesome spring season under way. The CMS men’s program has never won a national title before, and after last year’s runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, the Stags are amped to finally change that. This is helped by the return of current #1 CMS player Warren Wood (CMC ’15), who was absent for last year’s championships. Given that the 2014 NCAA tournament will be held at CMS’ own Biszantz Tennis Center, this could really be an historic year for the team. The Forum was lucky enough to catch up with current Junior and CMS captain Joe Dorn to hear the inside scoop on all this and more. For those who haven’t met Joe, he can be identified by his light-hearted disposition, giddy smiles, and until recently, his world-class beard.
Forum: Each sports team is different each year. Talk a little bit about how this team differs socially from years past, if at all. Do they bring a different attitude to practice? to games?
Joe Dorn: Our team this year feels young, as the majority of guys are underclassmen. With a younger team comes more energy and intensity in practice, as well as in matches. I think we have a great balance. Socially we all have a great time together and joke around a bunch, but everyone is serious when we step on the courts. This is the nicest group of guys I’ve ever played with and it has definitely played a role in our great team chemistry.
Forum: You and Zhenya are captains this year. How has that been? What’s it like leading the Stags?
JD: Zhenya and I have both really enjoyed being captains this year. Z is older than me and has a lot more experience so I defer to him on a lot of issues, but I think we balance each other well. I believe we are both good leaders, but with a hard-working and dedicated team our jobs are a lot easier.
Forum: What are your thoughts on the Stags performance in the fall season?
JD: Our fall season is less intense, but we still take it seriously and a few Stags had stellar performances. Sophomore Skyler Butts played extremely well and won the West Regional fall tournament, and eventually lost in the finals of the fall national tournament. With his performance he became an All-American. Also, we had great showings from our freshmen, Max Macey, Daniel Morkovine, and Glenn Hull. Warren Wood had a sub-par fall season, but he is currently tearing it up right now and is putting on a clinic at the number 1 position.
Forum:Which SCIAC/NCAA teams are your biggest rivals and why? What do you expect this spring?
JD: Our biggest SCIAC rivals are Redlands, Cal Lutheran, and of course Pomona. Pomona is always our biggest match of the year, and our guys have a ball competing against them. Some other teams that we expect to see at Nationals are Williams, Amherst, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Forum: Of all the spring matches, which ones are a must-see?
Of all the spring matches Pomona is our biggest and a must-see for any Stags Tennis fans. We play the Hens on April 5 at 6PM. Later in the season, we will be hosting the first two rounds of NCAAs, which are sure to be entertaining as it is postseason competition. School will still be in session so we are hopefully going to have a rowdy crowd.
Forum: You mention that the Stags are set to host the DIII National Championship this year at CMS. What are your thoughts on being the hosts?
Hosting the Elite Eight and final rounds of NCAAs is something all of the Stags are pumped for. We have a blast playing at the lovely Biszantz Tennis Center and believe that the home court advantage will help us greatly. Also, it will be nice to be able to sleep in our rooms and eat 42nd Street bagels for breakfast. I know Emmett Choy (CMC ’14) and some other CMS students will be sticking around to support us, so that is another huge plus. Winning CMS’s first national championship at our home venue would be an amazing experience.
Forum: changing subjects, I’m pretty sure everyone loved the beard. Can we expect it to come back anytime soon?
I appreciate the kind words about my beard. It is definitely going to come back, but not until May because that is when post-season play begins. I’m going to keep it clean-shaven for a while, but once May comes the beard will be in full force. Expect to see some facial hair from fellow stags, Rohan Shankar, Warren Wood, and the Brown Mamba.
Forum: What are some of the biggest strengths of the CMS team that have allowed you to be 2013 NCAA runners-up and the current #1 ranked powerhouse in D3?
Our team’s biggest strength right now is our depth. We have no weak players and everyone is competitive with one another. This makes our practices intense and helps everyone improve at a fast rate. If someone gets hurt we are very confident in the Stag that has to come off the bench and step up. Our freshmen are doing great and pushing the upperclassmen everyday. Daniel Mork has been a huge addition to our team and his forehand is as beautiful as his hair. Also, another strength of ours is our athleticism and ball-striking. I mean, just watch Warren Wood play for 10 minutes! That kid is a freak. Our talent is undeniable, but our work ethic is another strength. This team is extremely dedicated and we understand that our talent alone will not get us to where we want to be. Two players that have been standouts in the work-ethic department are Skyler Butts and Nik Marino. “Marinbro” (pronounced “marine-bro”) may be loud on the court, but the dude puts the work in. Lastly, I think our coaching is a huge strength. I wouldn’t trade our head coach, Paul Settles, for anyone in the world. He knows how to help young kids improve their tennis games and he also cares deeply about us as people. Paul is as classy as they get, and we are all motivated to win for him.
In the spirit of this team’s energy and potential for big things this year, I highly recommend CMS students get down to as many matches as possible this spring. Go Stags!