Marquette men’s tennis coach Steve Rodecap wanted to see improvement after a disappointing output at Michigan State two weekends ago.
He asked, and he sure did receive.
Junior Dan Mamalat and sophomore Vukasin Teofanovic both went 3-0 in singles play this past weekend at the Wildcat Invite at Northwestern.
The two had their struggles at the Spartan Invitational the week prior, and Rodecap was delighted to see both players step up.
“They did a nice job,” Rodecap said. “I felt like their performances were better, and it was probably our best result of the fall.”
Mamalat, who was battling injuries earlier in the year, was expected to make gradual progress in his game. The Philadelphia native showed the coaches he didn’t need much time to get back to his old self.
“I just kept working,” Mamalat said. “I made sure to work very hard in practice and do a little extra work with the coaches on the side.”
Mamalat gives Rodecap and his coaching staff credit for giving him the morale boost he needed heading to Evanston.
“I lost a little of my confidence the other weekend, and Coach has been telling me to stay positive and keep trying and I’d eventually come back,” Mamalat said. “I started playing a lot better throughout the tournament, and I got better as each match progressed, so it felt good.”
In addition, Mamalat and Teofanovic were slated to play in the Flight A Doubles title match, but the match was never played. The Golden Eagles faced players from Western Michigan, Arkansas, Toledo and Iowa, among others.
Rodecap, who said this was one of the more challenging tournaments of the fall, was impressed with how the newcomers fared, a promising sign for when Marquette opens its season at Notre Dame in January.
Sophomore James Stark and freshmen Gleb Sklyr and Javier Varela Hernani each recorded singles victories.
“The other group that went, I think they’re still trying to find their comfort zone,” Rodecap said. “Both freshmen played much better this weekend and actually did a much better job in doubles. It was good to see them starting to turn the corner a little bit.”
For the freshmen, their fall season comes to a satisfying close. They can now begin their training regimen for the truly meaningful matches that begin in January. Mamalat gave them praise and said they’ve developed nicely over the semester.
“In the beginning they were having some difficulties because they weren’t used to playing in the environment we play in,” Mamalat said. “They’re more used to the pressure situations. It was really nice to see them improve as the fall went on.”
Mamalat and Teofanovic will be tagging along with teammates junior Logon Collins and sophomore Cameron Tehrani to Austin, Texas, this weekend to participate in the final tournament of the fall.
“It’s a very high-level tournament, which is good,” Rodecap said. “We need that. We’ll have to transition a little bit going back outside because we haven’t been outside for a while. There’s going to be a lot of good competition and good expectations for these guys going into the weekend.”
In preparation for the fall finale, Mamalat is preparing to head into the winter on a good note.
“Just keep on improving my game, especially my serving and my forehand and getting adjusted to the outdoor conditions,” Mamalat said. “Just being prepared mentally and physically for more of a grind this weekend.”