May 2001 CSU Tennis Newsletter

May 16, 2001

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This year is especially exciting because we are one of the few Division I Athletic Programs to add Men's Tennis as a varsity sport. Thanks to all of the CSU Tennis supporters with a special thank you to "Mr. Tennis" Bob Malaga for helping us bring back men's tennis. We are very busy getting the word out about our new Men's Program, and there are many exciting additions to what will be a very competitive Women's Team. Here are some highlights from our 2000-2001 season.

Men's Team Roster

Our Men's Roster of 2000-2001 was comprised of several Cleveland-area tennis players:

Franco Gallo (Lorain, OH) was our upperclassman representative. Franco is a senior in the process of completing his Education degree and teaching certification.

Adam Mercurio (Lorain, OH) transferred to Cleveland State University after his freshman year at Mount Union College. Adam, aka "Merc" by just about everyone! Merc was a team member of the AAU National Junior Team Tennis Championship from Lorain, Ohio competing summer of 2000. Besides his love for tennis competition, Merc is very talented musically and theatrically, and may be best known for his own rendition of "Who Let the Dawgs Out?" during warm-up!

James Koorey (Parma, OH) is a freshman from Parma High School. James brings to the team his passion for tennis, a variety of tennis rackets--mostly demo's, and a 6'4" frame meant for serve-and-volley tennis! Looking to see James develop as a tenacious tennis competitor within our MCC Conference. John Ostroske (North Olmsted, OH) brings a very cerebral approach to his on-court game that complements his kicking topspin groundstrokes and serves. John is very easily underestimated by his opponents as his deceptive, easy-going nature lures his opponents into thinking they have it easy! John's patience and persistence contributed positively to our new program.

Patrick Leitner (Wadsworth, OH) joined us mid-season in January, after completing a semester at Akron University. Pat sets the pace with very quick footwork and pure sprint speed, and is sought after for team tutoring in Math! Topspin baseline play keeps Pat's opponents working very hard for a point and his competitive nature has brought this newly formed team a couple of wins from his court. Looking for more of the same in the upcoming seasons!

Joe "JC" Ventura (Maple Heights, OH) is a sophomore that joined us mid-Spring, at the conclusion of a successful Fencing season for CSU's Fencing Team. JC often brought his guitar along on road trips and shared his musical talent with his teammates. Nice to have so much talent on one team!

Jeff Sutyak (Eastlake, OH) is a sophomore that also joined us mid-Spring, concluding his Golf season with the CSU Golf Team. Jeff's tricky left-handed serve gave his teammates and opponents something to reckon with!

Women's Team Update

We wish our 4th-year senior Brandy Cera all the best as she finishes her academic studies in Chemistry at CSU to transfer into the Pharmacology Program at Ohio State University. Brandy's contributions athletically and academically will always be appreciated. Her competitive spirit is something that will continue with us--thanks for everything Brandy!

It was a coaching pleasure to announce the addition of one of the best players in Ohio to our Women's Roster this Spring. Irina Strembitsky (Mayfield, OH,) went undefeated in singles play for the spring. Her victories included wins over Amy Steiner (Butler), Jackie Farr (UI-Chicago), and the MCC Player of the Year, Maria Pandele (Detroit-Mercy). Irina's tennis background boasts a USTA Midwest Sectional ranking of 7 in Girls' 18 and under, an Ohio State Champion as a Freshman in 1996 (Fall), State Qualifier in 1997, 1998, and Qualifier at Boys' State Tournament Spring 2000 (doubles) representing Mayfield High School. Irina also has competed on the Jr. Wightman Cup Team from Northeast Ohio as well as the USTA Intersectional competitions. She will certainly add strength to our women's program.

Returning for the 2001-2002 Season are Fatima Martin (Brown Deer, WI) and Erin Johnson (Amherst, OH), both will be seniors--Fatima is a Psychology major with a consistent baseline game. Erin is working on a degree in Communications and is known for her 3 set matches. Audrey Shade (Grosse Ile, MI) is a junior in International Relations and rounds out our team with a strong serve and powerful groundstrokes.

Welcome Aboard New Recruits

Rebekah Bicksler (Mansfield, OH) has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Cleveland State University on a tennis scholarship. Rebekah has Sectional and National tournament playing experience and looks to bring an all-around solid game of tennis to our women's program--Welcome Rebekah!!

Bryan Gavin (New Philadelphia, OH) has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Cleveland State University on a tennis scholarship. Bryan is a very strong NEO tournament player, and is a favorite to go to the state tournament from his District Competition--looking forward to Bryan's all-court style of play.

Paul Haley (San Antonio, TX) has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Cleveland State University on a tennis scholarship. Paul is an all-court player from the Texas Section (Superchamps) with extensive tournament experience in the Southwest Region. Thanks to Paul's tenacity in researching Division I Tennis programs and being computer-savvy, Paul found Cleveland State and has been an enthusiastic ambassador for our program. Paul spread the word to his tournament opponents and brings a few friends from Texas with him to Cleveland!

Eric Winn (Austin, TX) has also committed to attend Cleveland State University on a tennis scholarship. Eric's tournament record is also at the Superchamp level in the Texas Section, and actually met Paul Haley as an opponent at a Texas tournament. After a tight 3-setter, they were chatting courtside and discussing college choices, next thing I know, I'm meeting Eric and his folks, and yet another friend!

Shawn Whitehouse (Austin, TX) has verbally committed to attend Cleveland State University. Shawn is a Texas Section tournament player looking to "walk-on" to the CSU Men's Squad and has a special interest in doubles. This is good news for Coach Baker! Shawn made his visit to Cleveland with Eric and as it turns out, had met our own "Merc" at the Florida AAU National Jr. Competition! What a small world!

The CSU Malaga Tennis Center will host an Adult NTRP Doubles Tournament. Proceeds to benefit our CSU Tennis Program. Enter today at Dates are 6/1-6/3, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. First Match Consolation--2 matches of doubles play! Deadline for entry is 5/24/01--enter today!

Plain Dealer Junior Tennis Championships for juniors' 12-and under through 18-and under. We've extended the week to add a First Match Consolation round, so kids will get more play experience. Dates are 6/11 thru 6/15 at CSU Malaga Tennis Center--sign up on line at or mail in entry found in the Cleveland Plain Dealer! Draw access for both events available on-line at

At the Mid-West Collegiate Conference Tennis banquet the CSU tennis program was recognized with the following awards:

MCC's "Newcomer of the Year" -- Irina Strembitsky

Women's "Coach of the Year" -- Teresa Baker

In the Classroom

Franco, Merc, James, and John were athletic-academic honor students and were the foundation of our Men's Tennis Team's "Best of the Best" Team Academic Achievement Award. Our Men's Team of Fall, 2000 achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.21, the highest among all the CSU athletic teams. Great job guys!!

Can you help us get there?

Like most athletic programs, we continually struggle to make ends meet. In order to be competitive, we need to continually recruit, schedule competitively, update equipment, and travel to away matches. It is the goal of this tennis program to be a competitive Division I representative. You can help us get there!

Your tax-deductible donation, no matter how small, will help us put together the type of team you would be proud to be associated with. Please make your check payable to "CSUF-Tennis" and send to Coach Baker, CSU Tennis Office, 2451 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115 Thank you in advance for your support.

Thank You

A quick thank you goes out to: Assistant coach Rick Shy for his disciplined approach to match play. Todd Vetrovsky for volunteering his time to help coach the teams. David Seidenfeld for his donation of 4 cases of tennis balls and tennis instructional books. Also, Walt Oden and Mary Herrick (NEO USPTA) for helping to promote our tennis program to area clubs and pros.

The weather in Cleveland during our spring schedule is iffy at best! Thanks Michelle DuPerow and the River Oaks Racquet Club for accommodating our practices and Matches.

Last but not least let me thank our van driver, volunteer coach and my best friend Tom Boylan.