The men’s and women’s tennis teams of the 2010 season are a group of energetic, motivated athletes with a passion for the game. As their season concludes, meet some of the players and learn about their triumphs.

Awards are a culmination of hard work and they do not come easily. Freshman Sarah Corbitt came from the basketball court to the tennis court, and was named Player of the Year at the St Louis Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SLIAC) women’s tennis individual tournament, held at Dwight Tennis Center in Forest Park.

As if this was not enough, Corbitt also took the award for the SLIAC Newcomer of the Year as voted by the league coaches. To complete the hat trick, Corbitt and her partner, sophomore Marianna Hronek were named the top doubles team in the conference. Principia also received the 2010 SLIAC Women’s Tennis Sportsmanship Award.

Corbitt believes that a good environment has made it possible to excel. “This season has been great and we have had very good results because of working very hard at practice,” she said. Besides having a strong tennis background, Corbitt, who has played in many United States Tennis Association-sanctioned tournaments, believes that there is more to come.

She has a powerful forehand and is quite agile on the court. To complete these qualities, Corbitt is a fighter for every point. Corbitt’s achievements are examples of the performance by the tennis team’s resilience. Junior Jasmine Carcieri, who has just returned from the Hawaii field program with sophomore Courtney Banko, acknowledges Corbitt’s mental toughness. “She is just amazing and very focused whenever on court,” Carcieri admits.

Carcieri’s biggest assets are her strong serves and top spins. She chases every point and although ranked fifth and sixth in the league, Carcieri often plays in the upper rungs.

One player who has steadily climbed up the ladder is Heather Libbe, a junior who is a great inspiration to the team on and off the courts. She is a natural leader and also has a passion for cross-country.  Carcieri rates Libbe as one who has limitless potential.

Senior Katie Sydness returned to the team this season after taking a two-year break to captain the women’s lacrosse team. “It is refreshing to play with such an amazing team,” she says.

In some of this season’s memorable matches, Principia overwhelmed Eureka 9-0 and edged out Greenville College 5-4. Greenville College posted the same results against Westminster College.

The men’s team has had mixed results. Junior Christian Hagenlocher, who plays alongside his younger brother Kevin, a freshman, summarized the mood as vibrant. “This season has gone on well and there is a good blend of teamwork and individual brilliance,” he said. Kevin plays at number two in the singles, with junior Clayton Delaney at the top. According to Christian, the confidence level has been good which has resulted in some big wins, especially against Fontbonne, another 9-0.

The men’s team shared the podium with Greenville College for the 2010 SLIAC Men’s Tennis Sportsmanship Award as the tennis season ended. Junior Cameron Huber and sophomore Ben Black finished as the third-ranked doubles team in the SLIAC. Christian Hagenlocher attributes this to the high discipline and individual leadership roles among the players. “It is the other coaches who vote for the best team and this shows the amount of respect the coaches accord Principia,” Hagenlocher added.

The men’s tennis team has more fluidity this year than in the past. Just before finishing the season SLIAC Team Championship at Forest Park, which was later moved to Principia because of rain, Principia defeated Concordia Seminary 8-1, losing only at the number one doubles position. Another spirited performance came from number one singles player DeLaney, who pushed Tony Stevenson from Westminster to three sets at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park on April 16 and 17. Stevenson had not lost a set in the conference matches for the 2010 season.

Junior Ben Black is a fighter who relishes stiff competition and gets satisfaction from hitting a perfect shot. Black is a doubles specialist from California, where he and his high school partner won the California Interscholastic Federation high school championships in Los Angeles in 2007. He has a natural attacking style with a strong forehand and excellent net game. Sophomore Brian Wold combines good humor with good work ethic on the courts. His quick reaction allows him to pick up balls that most people couldn’t return. Another of his strengths is his net-play.

The teams have been supportive of one another, and Carcieri puts into perspective the reason behind this: “This season, the men’s and women’s teams are much closer. We support one another and it is a great family atmosphere,” she observes. This is the kind of atmosphere the team will need to break into the next level of competitiveness.

The two coaches, Casey Reynolds and Jessica Campbell, have the final word. They believe that dedication to training by the individual players and team discipline have attributed to Principia’s resilience against much stronger teams. “The only way is up,” they conclude.

Women’s Team: sophomore Courtney Banko, junior Jasmine Carcieri, freshman Sarah Corbitt, sophomore Marianna Hronek, sophomore Caroline Korthals, junior Heather Libbe and senior Katie Sydness.

Men’s  Team: sophomore Ben Black, junior Clayton DeLaney, junior Christian Hagenlocher, freshman Kevin Hagenlocher, junior Cameron Huber, sophomore Brian Wold, senior Todd Zimmerman.