Men’s tennis launches at AU

High hopes for the inaugural season of the Ashland University men’s tennis program

Paul Murray, Reporter

On Sept.8 of 2017, the Ashland University Athletic department announced that it would add women’s lacrosse and men’s tennis as varsity sports in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.

Nearly a year later, men’s tennis held their first official team practice at 6:30 a.m— fall conditioning.

“This morning was our first team practice of the year. We had the team out there running sprints, it was a good start.” Director of Tennis Operations Lexi Bolesky said.

Coach Bolesky has been the women’s tennis coach for the last two seasons. The women’s team won 8 matches last year and clinched a spot in the GLIAC tournament, the team’s first postseason berth in four years. This year she will assume the role of Director of Tennis Operations, and will be coaching both the men’s and women’s teams.

“It’s exciting, the competitive part of me loves having two opportunities to go out there and win matches, but two programs means dedicating a lot more time and effort and maintaining good time management.” said Bolesky

The addition of a men’s tennis team is something that has been talked about for awhile. The athletic department spoke with Bolesky about the potential of adding the team, which she welcomed with open arms.

“Athletics approached me and asked what was needed in order to make men’s tennis happen, but honestly we were ready,” Bolesky said, “We have great opportunities here because of the new complex, and it really came down to the logistics and getting players.”

The recruiting process began early last year, with the coaching staff looking for eight players to fill the empty roster that had been laid before them and to toe the newly renovated tennis surface. Stuart Brdicka, Colten Clark, and Jordan Phelps all commited early on Nov.16 to become Ashland’s inaugural men’s tennis class.

New assistant Christian Hamilton was hired on July 10 to assist Bolesky in the everyday operations of both teams, and has nothing but excitement for this years program and recruiting class.

“I am very excited to join the Ashland tennis program,” Hamilton said, “What Lexi has done with recruiting new players to the men’s program, as well as key players to the women’s side, I think we will have a chance to make an impact in the GLIAC.”

Bolesky has shown that she has what it takes to start a program from the ground up. Her first year coaching, the women’s team went 0-17 before finishing the year with a 9-0 home victory over Mount Vernon Nazarene. The following season the team increased that win total by seven.

The men’s team will have its first preseason test on Oct. 12 when Ashland University hosts the first annual Hidden Duel Invitational, with local teams such as Findlay and Walsh coming to compete.

When asked about the expectations for this years teams, you can tell by the tone and confidence in Bolesky’s voice that big things are to come for Ashland tennis.

“We are young, we are talented, and we have good leadership,” Bolesky said. “We are going to compete in the GLIAC and strive to be one of the top teams in Division II.”