The Mercer University men’s tennis team finally ended their five game losing streak and seemingly rough start to the 2014 season. However, the Bears faced intense competition and have had the opportunity to really improve their skills and confidence. They faced Auburn, Florida State and Arkansas all in preconference play.
“We have had a pretty tough schedule to start the season, but it’s been good for us to see where we are as of now and what we have to do to get better as the year advances,” said sophomore Arnav Mahoney
Senior Joao Pagan agreed. “This year we have really good chances and played ranked schools and had tight matches. We are all pumped. We have been working hard and getting better,” said Pagan.
The hard work paid off when the Bears earned their second win of the season against Alabama State University on Friday, Jan. 31. This match was the Bears’ first home match of the season. While Alabama State won the doubles point, the Bears came on strong winning the one, two and three singles slots.
The team’s morale was not down at all. They know that the tough competition is only making them better. This came to fruition as the Bears defeated Davidson on Feb. 2. They won the match five games to two. The Bears won both doubles points and three singles. Freshman Manuel clinched the match winning his last singles game.
In order to keep on winning, the Bears are putting in lots of work both on and off the tennis court. During practice, they run drills to target the areas where they need improvements. In addition, they have been doing conditioning specific to tennis. This involves many sprints, suicides and aggressively moving in different directions.
“Everyone is focused and practicing hard,” said Pagan. “This gives us a lot of confidence and great things are ahead of us. The program is certainly going in the right direction.”
Mahoney also believes that the Bears have the ability to achieve greatness. “I think we had a rough start to a tough schedule, but we are starting to turn things around. We got a great group of guys who are putting in the work. As a group we are just working on playing with more confidence and to compete better every match.”
This confidence will allow the Bears to succeed in conference play and advance to the tournament.
“Our expectations for the rest of the season are to keep playing better and better and to be ready to perform at our best for the conference matches and tournament,” says Mahoney.
The Bears are still in preseason play and will travel to South Alabama, UNC Wilmington and Wofford next weekend.