It was a busy weekend for men’s tennis as they took on St. Edward’s University and Laredo Community College in their first home matches since late January. Ranked 13th in the nation, they faced St. Edwards on Friday, winning 5–4, but Saturday’s match against Laredo Community College was less successful. After a short rain delay, the Tigers fell to LCC 5–4.
Despite the team loss, first-year Wilson Hamilton was able to grind out a victory defeating his opposition 6–2, 6–4. Hamilton reflected on the weekend, which he saw as a major confidence booster.
“I would say I learned a lot. I think our team is in a good place. Everyone is having fun and we have good team chemistry right now. However, in order to get to the next level as a team we all need to be a little more diligent in our own roles to be competitive against the top DIII schools,” Hamilton said.
First-year Jace Akagi-Okuma commented on the team’s growing energy.
“Our guys are starting to play a little better, starting to find a little bit of rhythm as we get more matches under our belt,” Akagi-Okuma said. “I think energy plays a huge role in the matches. Seeing your teammates getting pumped up on the other courts can definitely help you to start playing with a little more energy on your own court. So going off of that, I think this weekend we’ll definitely need to try to stay positive and keep the energy up, even when things aren’t going our way, because that can play a huge role on the matches going on next to your court.”
Akagi-Okuma expressed optimism for the rest of the season.
“We’re a little short on numbers this year, so we’ll definitely need to make sure that everyone executes their role on the team to the best of their ability,” Akagi-Okuma said. “Despite the small roster, we’ve still got an amazing group of talented guys this year that I’m grateful to call my teammates, so I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to produce some results and get some big wins as the season progresses.”
Senior Clark Rivers explained his takeaways from the weekend.
“We played a nationally ranked Division II school and also a nationally ranked [junior college] school, and all the matches were close. The weekend proved to us that we can compete at a high level, and it also helped develop an upward trend regarding the team’s culture and attitude and that will help later in the year, when we play harder Division III opponents,” Rivers said.
Hamilton commented on his expectations for the next tournament — the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Indoor National Championships in St. Peter, MN on February 23–15.
“If everyone can buy into the system, we can be a real threat at national indoors. We have the potential to challenge any DIII school that we face at nationals. We just gotta believe winning the whole thing is possible,” Hamilton said.
Rivers explained that this weekend’s matches have helped them to prepare for next weekend.
“Our previous matches have helped us get match ready for indoor nationals, and even though the weather has been dreadful, we have been battle tested in our previous matches and we should be able to compete for the title at the weekend,” Rivers said.