Men’s tennis to be suspended

Rachel Zemanek, Sports Editor

The men’s tennis team will be suspended after this semester because of a decline in player’s academic records.

“First and foremost we see ourselves as an academic success program,” Athletic Director Ryan Byrne said. “Over the last decade there has been a significant decline in the academic success metrics in men’s tennis.”

Because of player commitment this season, the athletic department put off canceling until after spring semester. The tennis team has held the best Western State Conference record over the last 32 years.

Student athletes must have at least a 2.0 grade point average to play and a 2.5 GPA to move onto a NCAA school. Being a team on the courts and in the classroom is an important aspect of the game for the coaches and the players.

“Our top priority here is to have student athletes,” said ex-Vaquero and newly hired coach Lance Kronberg. “We’re definitely stressing the academic part. They are students first.”

Kronberg has replaced the previous head coach Ryan Heinberg, who resigned last year.

“I heard the program was going to be cancelled,” Kronberg said. “I was on campus and just walked into the athletic department and started talking to Ryan Byrne and a couple days later, I was the coach.”

Business administration major Soufian El Mhamdi is the only returning player this season. This is his third year at City College; he started in the Spring 2010 as an ESL student from Morocco.

“We give priority to the school work,” said El Mhamdi. “I make sure to tell everyone that school is number one.”

As the only returning player, El Mhamdi has a key role on the team.

“We hang out outside the court. It’s really important to keep that team unit,” he said.

Having Kronberg as a new coach for the final season could have been a setback, but El Mhamdi chose to have a positive outlook.

“I really appreciate all the efforts he puts in every day and how much he cares about us getting through,” he said.

Kronberg was also the head coach in 2001-02 and played in ’82 for the State Championship.

10 of the 13 players this season are international students. Brazil, Sweden, Morocco, France, England, Germany, Denmark and the United States are among the countries represented.

“That’s a big commitment,” said Kronberg. “They came to this school to play tennis.”

The players are hoping to get experience and exposure to help them transition easily to a four-year university.

There was one successful transfer last year, Miles Seemann transferred to UCSB as a global studies major and now plays for the Gauchos.

The Vaqueros, ranked No. 12 in the state, lost their first match Feb. 9 against College of the Desert, who are ranked No. 3.

Although it is difficult to reinstate a sports program once it has been cut, Kronberg “feels optimistic.” By baring good results and brilliant grades during the season he hopes to bring back the program.

“We look great,” Kronberg said. “We have 13 guys that can all play tennis. It’s pretty rare to have that many players that can play well, a conference title is a possibility.”

The Vaqueros are a strong team but Kronberg makes sure the team knows that being strong on the court is “not as important as getting this group through school together.”

“We’re going to be gentlemen and scholars,” said Kronberg.

The Vaqueros’ next match is set for 2 p.m. Feb. 19 vs. L.A. Pierce at City College.

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