The Mercer men’s tennis team is looking forward to a challenging season ahead. They are preparing for conference play with an intense pre-season schedule, facing many top teams, under the direction of the new head coach Eric Hayes.
With a tough season ahead, the team will challenge opponents from both the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeastern Conference in addition to several other ranked teams. The Bear’s schedule is complete with 25 matches, but only six home contests. The team will have to fight for wins with long stretches on the road.
After a disappointing 2013 season, the Bears are hoping to come out stronger, and surprise fans and opponents alike, with an ultimate goal of nationals this year.
Junior transfer Oliver Snaider contributes, “This season will be a tough one. We are playing many top ranked schools and will be traveling a lot.”
The team began their season Saturday, Jan. 14, on the road at Florida State competing against FSU, Furman, and Florida A&M. They dropped losses to both FSU and Furman, but were able to pull out a 4-2 win against Florida A&M.
Snaider snagged Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week honors for his performance in the Florida State Tournament. This is the first Player of the Week awarded this season. Mercer has not had a recipient of this award since 2006.
“It feels great. I didn’t expect it at all and it is an honor being named Player of the Week and representing Mercer. I felt okay, but the first matches are always uncomfortable,” said Snaider.
Snaider lost only one match the entire weekend, versus FSU’s Dominic Cotrone. Playing number one in singles, he defeated Furman’s challenger, and led the team to victory against Florida A&M.
The Bears traveled to the University of Arkansas on Jan. 17 to compete in a double header against the 58th ranked Razorbacks. The Bears suffered defeat losing 5-2 and 6-2 on the road.
With a tough preseason schedule, the team is preparing themselves for a different type of season than last, they hope to impress their supporters.
“I think as the season goes we will be getting more confident and give very pleasant surprises,” said Snaider.
The Bears are eager to begin conference play. The first A-Sun game is scheduled for Mar. 14 against Lipscomb.
“I think this team has a lot of potential and being led by Coach Hayes, we will give very nice surprises,” said Snaider.
Along with Snaider who has already proven to be successful this season, other notable players to watch include sophomore Austin Emmit and freshman Manuel de Luis.
The Bears continue competition Saturday, Jan. 25, on the road facing Coastal Carolina. With a long stretch of away contests, the Bears will host Alabama State Jan. 31 for their first home game of the season.