Rain slows down Jeffs in California

The team’s first spring tilt came against Cal-Lutheran. The Jeffs were looking to pick up where they had left off in the fall, bringing a flawless 4-0 record into the spring session. They came up just a bit short against the Kingsmen, however, despite victories by sophomore transfer Lenny Lepner, first-year Geoff Schwartz, and the doubles team of juniors Josh Rilla and Danny Babkes. In addition to the play of Lepner and Schwartz, a third newcomer, Michael Mintz ’08, also played well, losing in three sets after taking the first 7-5.

The team’s younger players showcased their abilities again the next day against Vanguard, as Schwartz won his second match in as many days and teamed with Lepner to win a doubles match. Despite returning five of the team’s top six singles players from last season, the Jeffs will depend heavily on Lepner, Mintz and Schwartz, who will play the third, fourth and sixth spots, respectively, in the singles lineup, in addition to contributing in doubles.

The top singles spots, however, belong to the team’s top two starters from last season, Babkes and Rilla. The tandem teamed to win last year’s NESCAC doubles title and will look to repeat that performance in 2005. Rilla notched his first win of the spring season against the Lions, but not in the manner he would have liked. His opponent, Andreas Guertner, was forced to retire while trailing 3-1 in the first set.

The Jeffs will also have the benefit of two new coaches. Rick Edelmann, the team’s new head coach, comes to Amherst from Florida Tech University where he started Div. II programs in both men’s and women’s tennis. He also spent 10 years coaching at Merrimack College, earning Northeast-10 Coach of the Year honors, and as a player he led St. Michael’s College to a Mid-East Conference tournament championship. “Our head coach has been a top player and has coached top teams, so he has definitely inspired a sense of confidence,” said senior captain Max Rettig. The team is equally enthusiastic about their new assistant coach, Matt Leitl, who they describe as being very much like a Goose to Edelmann’s Maverick.

With their new head coach, five returning starters and a plethora of first-year and transfer talent, the Jeffs hope to improve upon their 6-8 mark from last season. “We’re going to be underdogs this year, but we think we have a lot to prove,” said Jon Godsall ’06. “As always, our goals are to win the Little Three, make regionals and make the Elite Eight.”

The Jeffs begin NESCAC play on March 28 against the Jumbos of Tufts University.