Big Returns: Men's Tennis Ready for Nationals

Big Returns: Men's Tennis Ready for Nationals
Barry University men's tennis team opens up the NCAA Championships at 10 a.m. Wednesday vs. Northwood. Photo by Jim McCurdy

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Barry University's No. 1-ranked men's tennis team begins play at the NCAA Division II National Championships in Wednesday's 10 a.m. EST match against No. 32 Northwood at Suprise Tennis & Racquet Center.

"This is what everybody's been working for since the fall," senior Max Wimmer said. "Now everybody's ready to compete, and do their best."

The Buccaneers (25-0) will meet Northwood (17-4) for the second time this year. Barry beat the Timberwolves, 8-1, in Miami Shores on March 15. But this is the grand stage, and with 16 teams in the country left, it's a new ball game.

"We're starting from scratch," Wimmer said.

"The season starts over," junior Leo Vivas said. "It doesn't matter what we've done during the season. We want to finish first at the end of the season."

The Bucs, who won the NCAA title in 2010, are making their 17th trip to the site of the finals.

"This is huge," Vivas said. "This is what we worked for the whole year. Of course, we're taking it seriously. All the work we've done, we can't just throw that away. But one of the things we did to get here is have fun."

Wimmer is one singles victory away from becoming the school's all-time career wins leader. He is tied with current assistant coach Thomas Hipp with 67 victories in Buccaneer Red and Black. Senior Marco Mokrzycki is three doubles wins shy of tying Hipp's career mark of 78.

"I honestly would prefer to win as a team, but it would be nice to get the record in this tournament," Wimmer said. "I really don't care, though. I want to win a title with my team. That's the most important thing."

Barry has put together a season to remember, going unbeaten during the regular season for the first time in school history and climbing to No. 1 in the national poll. Yet there is unfinished business left.

"Hard work has paid off so far," Vivas said. "All the sacrifices, everything we've done so far has been a result of our hard work. With the chemistry on this team, we can do anything. It doesn't matter if you win individually. You have to win as a team."