The University of West Florida not only ended Armstrong State University’s Division II tournament run last season, but it was also the last match in Armstrong State’s program history.
West Florida, the top team in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II rankings and the eventual champion, beat No. 7 Armstrong State, 5-0, in the Round of 16 in May. Just two months prior, Armstrong State announced it would end all of its sports programs as it consolidated with Georgia Southern University.
This left Alberto Caceres Casas and other student-athletes searching for new schools. Caceres Casas finished 23-8 overall in the 2016-17 season to lead the Pirates to a 20-8 record. The junior transferred to Temple for the start of the 2017-18 academic year after two years at Armstrong State.
“If it didn’t [get cut] I’m not sure I would’ve transferred,” Caceres Casas said. “I was really happy where I was, but [Temple] has been a new experience, and I’m happy with that.”
Despite the jump from Division II tennis to Division I, Caceres Casas has fared well during the start of the season. In Temple’s (5-2) seven matches, he has six doubles wins and two singles wins.
Caceres Casas’ doubles match on Feb. 3 against Penn State did not finish, so he and his partner senior Thomas Sevel have yet to lose. They improved to 6-0 with wins against Navy and George Washington University this weekend.
“Doubles were hard in the beginning because we did not know each other that well, but we kept working, and we are winning every match,” Caceres Casas said.
Similar to Caceres Casas, Sevel played two years of Division II tennis at Augusta University before transferring to Temple for the 2016-17 season. In his first Division I season, Sevel posted a 17-6 singles record.
Sevel said he was introduced to Caceres Casas when Armstrong State and Augusta squared off on April 19, 2016. Sevel and Caceres Casas didn’t face each other in Armstrong State’s 5-1 win, but Sevel noticed Caceres Casas’ ability.
“I knew how good he was before, in Division II,” Sevel said. “I think he can do even better than what’s he done so far.”
Caceres Casas asked Sevel for advice and about the differences between the two levels of play when he arrived at Temple.
Sevel lost his main doubles partner when Artem Kapshuk, who led Temple in wins, transferred to Texas Tech University after the 2016-17 season.
Kapshuk won 14 matches in the top flight in Spring 2017 and had a 7-2 doubles record with Sevel in the first position. This spring, Kapshuk has an 8-2 singles record and 7-3 doubles record for Texas Tech, the No. 24 team in the ITA Division I rankings.
Sevel thinks Caceres Casas can be just as good.
“It’s two pretty different players,” Sevel said. “One has experience of Division I. One is coming from Division II. I guess he needs some time to adjust himself to Division I, but I think we can be one of the best doubles [pairs] in the country.”