Tennis Team Eager to Stay Focused

Sophomore doctor of physical therapy major gets ready to hit the ball back across the court.

Sophomore doctor of physical therapy major gets ready to hit the ball back across the court.

Melanie Quintanilla, Multimedia Editor

The tennis team cannot seem to catch a break with cancelled and rescheduled matches,  but players remain hopeful and motivated.

“It is like we are being held in jail. They have not done anything, besides the men’s team getting one match under their belt, they want to get going and playing,” said men’s and women’s head coach Jack Monick.

“They are tired of playing each other because they each know what their best strokes are. They want a little variety. So, they are all excited for matches to start up,” Monick said.

The members of both teams say they know the rescheduling is out of their control, and they are trying to remain optimistic.

“To have our matches cancelled and moved around a lot can definitely be frustrating at times, but it is all a part of the sport,” said junior speech pathology major Nel Chmil. “It is especially challenging knowing the end of the semester is going to be packed with matches and finals, but that is a commitment we all make being Division III athletes. My love for the sport makes it all worth it in the end.”

Senior Christian Pugliese, government, law and national security major, said it is frustrating to have games consistently rescheduled so that there is little time in between them.

“They try to remain motivated through their practices and team workouts,” said Pugliese. “We are constantly seeing improvements and know we will be ready when the time to play our matches come.”

Junior Carly Young, biology pre doctor of physical therapy major, said the team has no option but to stay focused.

Both teams have been preparing for this season, which cannot seem to start, since February 1. From Monday to Friday players held 6 a.m. practices that ended some two hours later.

“We held 6 a.m. practices because the whole idea was that we stuck together,” Monick said. “We grilled for two hours on all the drills that I brought in. The reason we did the 6 a.m. is because we could not figure out the scheduling to work for everyone. I did not like it either but we were all there and we all get to go through drills and everyone was able to get the same instructions.”

Players were able to mix and match the competition by having mixed doubles, doubles and singles.

“When we were able to beat the basketball team that came in at 7 a.m., we were able to get all kinds of drills on both sides. I have a ton of tennis balls, so what we do is we just keep hitting. So everyone is able to hit their own balls. But that’s the reason we chose to do 6 a.m. practices,” said Monick.

“We also play inter-squad matches that allow each of us to get better by learning from each other’s play style,” said Pugliese.

Players also focused on conditioning, drills, and lifting to get in shape and prepared for the season.

The men’s team ran into an additional challenge earlier in the season: a shortage of players.

“We were down to three men and we always had enough women. Women were good. They were solid,” said Monick.

The men’s team even tried to recruit from the soccer, basketball, and football team.

“There was one guy that happened to be running around the track at 6:45 and I said ‘Hey, would you want to play tennis?’ and he said that he would, and he brought two more people from the soccer team, and they were very good players who have previously played in high school but did not want to play two sports, but they decided to join and play the two sports,” said Monick.

Pugliese said that the dearth of players forced the team to work harder.

“We all knew as a team we had to focus on getting to be better players.”

Monick did not hesitate to ask a few of the players to join the squad once basketball season ended.

“There were a couple of basketball players, we even had James Hawk, the 6’10 kid, and we were going to make him the chief by standing him at the net and he would stick his arms out. Unfortunately he had no forehand or backhand but we were going to stick him with a racket and say ‘stand at the net’ so that he could intimidate the opponents.”

However, Hawk did not last. “He realized that standing at the net was not his forte. He would rather dunk a basketball but he continues to wave to me everyday as he walks by,” said Monick.

Eventually the team recruited enough players for a full roster.

“We have six solid guys that are going to play. We have another six who are working everyday and come to practice. I will try everything that I can to get them in to play, but they have a long way to go,” said Monick.

Now that they have a full team of both men and women, they are ready to get on the courts and play some matches.

“We are all just trying to stay focused on the goals that we have set for this season,” said Chmil.

Monick said the game is not about winning.

“It is about how the kids are and it is about living through the experiences because it is priceless. It is truly a big moment when you get your first win, so we will be okay.”