With only two more weekend tournaments on the fall schedule for the Marquette men’s tennis team, time for improvement before regular season play is running thin.
The Golden Eagles are participating in the Northwestern Wildcat Invite this weekend, and the team has been dedicating this week in practice to fine-tuning the parts of their game they found troublesome at last weekend’s tournament at Michigan State.
Finding skills the whole team can improve upon this week has been a difficult task, because all fall tournaments are focused heavily on individual play.
“You’re always looking at things a little differently than if you were playing head-to-head competition,” said coach Steve Rodecap. “Everybody is a little different on what needs to happen. It’s really good to see them against that level of competition and to see what guys need to either maintain where they’re at, and for some other guys to see what it’ll take for them to be a little more consistent at that level.”
Junior Logon Collins and sophomore Cameron Tehrani paired up to advance to the doubles quarterfinals before losing to Michigan this past weekend. Collins and Tehrani also managed to pick up wins in singles action.
That seemed to be the only real bright spot in the invitational, and sophomore Vukasin Teofanovic is hoping the players take what they learned at practice this week to heart.
“I think the biggest thing we need to work on is transferring the level of play we need to have in practice to the actual tournaments,” Teofanovic said. “I think most of the guys are struggling with that.”
Teofanovic and sophomore Dan Mamalat both lost their respective matches at Michigan State, and Rodecap would like to see them rebound at Northwestern.
“Any time you have a setback, you kind of measure how good a guy is going to be by how they respond, so I’m really curious to see how (they will) respond this weekend,” Rodecap said. “When the elite players take a bad loss or get down on confidence, they tend to respond really well and are resilient.”
Mamalat, recovering from an injury, said he needs to get back into his comfort zone, and the Northwestern tournament should aid in that. Mamalat praised his coaches for offering each player individual attention over this fall schedule and making suggestions for improvement.
“It’s very important for all of us because we have different game styles and different strengths and weaknesses,” Mamalat said. “Each player’s going to have different things he’s going to need to work on.”
After Northwestern, there is only one more tournament scheduled for the fall. Coaches are trying to keep players focused only on this coming weekend, but Teofanovic is already planning ahead for how he’ll keep fine tuned over the winter break.
“Fall is important for improving and everything, but what everybody focuses on is the spring,” Teofanovic said. “Everybody’s already thinking about how hard they’re going to try and stay in shape and practice once the fall is done.”
Rodecap doesn’t have specifics planned just yet for the two-month hiatus before the first match at Notre Dame, but he has seen these fall matches as a useful barometer for regular season anticipations.
“From the first day these guys stepped on campus, our whole goal has been that first match in January against Notre Dame,” Rodecap said. “Everything we do is in preparation for that match.”