Men’s tennis coach Dann Nelson says his team needs to step up its intensity heading into this weekend’s highly-ranked tournament field.
The Sun Belt Shootout takes place Saturday and Sunday in Murfreesboro, Tenn., at Middle Tennessee State. The field consists of some of the nation’s highest-ranked teams, including 57-ranked University of South Alabama and 71-ranked Georgia State University. DePaul University and Middle Tennessee spent time in the top 75 as well.
In an effort to add a spark to practice, Nelson said he increased the players’ workload by adding sprints and longer distance runs to their practice routine. He said the changes will help the team win the close matches.
“We had two home matches and one away match (last weekend), and I thought we should have won all three,” Nelson said. “We came up way short in the Vincennes match. I want to finish the season strong, and we’re working toward that.”
Nelson said it is important to show the other teams that the Salukis belong in a field with nationally ranked opponents by pulling off an upset. The Shootout also represents a great way to get ready for conference play, he said.
Junior Brandon Florez said the Salukis must do more than simply keep the matches close.
“We can’t just be OK with ‘we played close,’” he said. “And even if we don’t (win), at least let them know we came to win. If not, we’re going to get walked over.”
“Playing outside (is) kind of slower, so we have to move more on the courts,” Cherradi said. “So that’s the reason why we’re running more.”
Nelson changed his doubles line-up in last week’s match at Saint Louis University by switching Florez’s partner from freshman Martijn Admiraal to senior Stanislas Rodier and Cherradi’s partner from Rodier to to junior Jordan Snyder.
Both pairs were victorious in their matches.
Nelson said with the changes in both practice and the line-up, the team must to continue to improve and work hard during practice.