Experience, practice key to men’s tennis season

Tennis, above all other competitions, is a sport where repetition is key.

Men’s tennis team members hope the return of familiar teammates and increased conditioning will help the team improve from its 9-13 record a season ago.

Seniors Badr Cherradi, Brandon Florez, and Orhan Spahic anchor a team that has gotten used to each other over the past few seasons, which Coach Dann Nelson said will mean a lot for the team’s confidence and performance.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had this many seniors,” he said.

Nelson also said he believes the combination of veterans and new player Jonny Rigby will improve the team. He said he remembered a similar composition to the 2009 team, the last to win a Missouri Valley Conference Championship.

“The last time we had multiple players back and freshmen mixed in, we did well,” Nelson said.

Junior Rafa Cuadrillero said he thinks the key for him to get better starts with more practice. He said cooperative weather in his home country, Spain, made it easier to train over the summer.

Sophomore tennis player Szymon Opieczonek backhands the ball Tuesday during practice at the tennis courts. “The first practices are important to see where everyone’s fitness is,” Head Coach Dann Nelson said. “It’s always interesting to see who comes back fit, strong and match ready. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Tiffany Blanchette | Daily Egyptian

“I want to improve conditioning,” he said. “I felt like last year, when I played third set matches, I was a little bit away from my best shape.”

Cuadrillero, too, believes having so many players from last season return will help the team as a whole.

Sophomore Martijn Admiraal said he also enjoys getting back to work with familiar teammates.

“I’m really comfortable with the guys. It’s a great group. It feels good to have them back,” he said.

Admiraal said he tried to improve his footwork during the offseason, as well as his strokes.

As far as team expectations go, Admiraal said he thinks this season will turn out differently than the last.

“We will do better. We can set some goals, like winning the championship,” Admiraal said.

The men’s tennis season will begin Sept. 21-23 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Salukis will face off against Middle Tennessee State University, Lipscomb Univeristy and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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