Men's Tennis Leads with Local Flair

Feb. 16, 2007

by Emily Rickerson

With the tennis season in full swing, the Golden Knights are relying on some local talent to help pave the way to a successful 2007 campaign. UCF has three young players from Florida on the squad - sophomore Danny Colon from Jacksonville, sophomore Jimmy Roesch from Melbourne and sophomore Brock Sakey from Gulf Breeze.

Sakey came to UCF in 2005, where he quickly gained recognition by earning the title of Conference USA Freshman of the Year. Sakey attended Gulf Breeze High School where he was a four-time team MVP. As a senior he won three matches at the state championships and advanced to the Florida Class 2A title match. His first season at UCF resulted in an overall singles record of 21-9, with a team-high 16 victories during dual-match play.

Roesch played tennis at the high school level at Eau Gallie and claimed the Florida Class 3A State title as a senior. He posted a 14-1 singles mark as a senior and was the Orlando Sentinel 2005 Boys Player of the Year. At UCF, Roesch and Sakey competed in doubles together during the 2005-06 season and finished with an overall record of 6-4.

Colon came to UCF from a junior college in Jacksonville. He competed in amateur tournaments in 2005-06. Colon's is in his first season at UCF and he opened the year on a high note with a win over Bethune-Cookman at the No. 6 spot on Jan. 27.

"He adds great depth to our team and he will get better. Colon is a good kid and is coming along really well," head coach Bobby Cashman said. Cashman believes that it is beneficial to recruit locally. Cashman strives on having a squad that includes both local as well as foreign players in order to achieve balance on the roster.

"There is a need for balance," Cashman said. "Most of the top programs have a split team, half the best Americans and half the best foreigners. I was taught that you need about half and half. When I came to UCF it wasn't like that. (There were) all foreigners and I didn't think that was quite fair. There are plenty of American players that you can look at and have as a part of your roster."

Due to proximity, among other factors, signing local players has its advantages. The traveling involved to watch local prospects play is minuscule compared to what it would take to watch a player oversees. "There is an advantage in recruiting locally," Cashman said. "A lot of times with foreign players, you don't know exactly what you are getting. You can't go out and watch them play like you can with local players. With local players you can go out and watch them perform. We have been getting some better players from Florida over the years."

One of these better players, Pensacola's Blaze Schwartz, recently signed with UCF to play in the fall of 2007. Schwartz was named the Pensacola News-Journal Boys Tennis Athlete of the Year, in addition to being a first-team all-area selection in 2006. Schwartz is from the same area as Sakey and through tennis, the two have become close friends.

"Brock Sakey's dad is a tennis pro and we have some mutual friends," Cashman said. "That is how I first met Brock. Blaze is coached by Brock's dad, so when one player comes to UCF and they like it, the rest follow."

The 2007 UCF tennis season started off strong with a win over No. 51 Penn and freshman Johan Beigart was already named the C-USA Player of the Week on Feb. 6. After the win at Penn, the Golden Knights moved into the FILA Collegiate Tennis Rankings at No. 69 in early February.

UCF's success is attracting added attention to the program and should bring more prospects to the playing field in the future.

"The interest in our school is going up." Cashman stated. "We are getting better and better. This year we are really improving and our talent is helping our program reach new heights."