The Kenyon College Lords don't need to worry about the lack of seniors on their 2011-12 roster. Instead of relying on fourth-year players, Kenyon has the luxury of building on a strong group of juniors that gained invaluable experience on the national stage one season ago.
The Lords' eight juniors were the main reason the team advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III tournament for the third time in four years. The then-sophomores played well beyond their years and their poise in a number of pressure-packed matches turned what should have been a rebuilding year into one of the finest in program history.
Paul Burgin is the leading candidate to fill the void at No. 1 singles left by the graduation of All-American Jeremy Polster. Playing at second singles as a sophomore, Burgin racked up a 26-5 record, earned an All-North Coast Athletic Conference first-team nod, was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Central Region Player to Watch, and advanced to the NCAA DIII singles championship.
Burgin's success also carried over to the doubles venue where he partnered with classmate Austin Griffin. The two didn't come together until midseason, but jelled during a nine-match win-streak that helped them earn a spot on the All-NCAC first team. In addition to his doubles play, Griffin's solo mark of 15-6 could point toward a breakout junior season.
C.J. Williams also turned in a memorable sophomore campaign as part of Kenyon's top doubles pairing. Together, Williams and Polster went 19-6, finished the year as the tenth ranked tandem in the nation, and earned All-America honors. Williams, who posted a 15-8 mark at fourth singles, will also be counted on as a key contributor on a higher rung of the solo ladder in 2011-12.
Jake Matthews and Kevin Ye further bolster the Lords' returning depth. As doubles partners, Matthews and Ye won their final eight matches en route to a 14-4 record and second team All-NCAC honors. Ye went 11-11 in singles play, but flourished after being moved to the third flight. Matthews owned a 12-9 singles mark and, along with Williams, was named an ITA Scholar-Athlete.
With a valuable year of experience under their belts, Kenyon's outstanding juniors will lead the Lords' charge toward a sixth-straight NCAC title in 2012. Their quest begins when the fall portion of the schedule opens September 16-17 at the University of Toledo Invitational.