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Men's tennis bounces back

tennis_cmykBeginning practice on Jan. 5 and competing in its first matches on Jan. 10, the Mercer Men’s Tennis Team has had trouble finding success. First, the team was defeated by Georgia Tech, followed by the University of Arkansas and the University of Tennessee. The team finally found success after defeating Southern Illinois University. Even after the lack of success, neither the coach nor the players are discouraged in the least.

Eric Hayes, a relative newcomer to the team, started coaching Mercer’s tennis team last year.  He explains that all of the initial losses are against nationally ranked schools. Hayes explains that facing teams of such caliber would help prepare the players for their much easier conference schedule. Hayes describes that playing the bigger, stronger teams “toughen us up.”

The team is right behind its new coach on the matter.  Arnav and Arsav Mohanty, juniors working on their business majors, confirm that, regarding the sequence of losses, they have “no worries, not at all.” Arnav says with confidence, “We’re getting better every match, and we’re getting better as a team.”

One of the newest additions to the team, international freshman Sam Philp, confirms that he is bonding well with the team.  The bond is apparent, as the members of the team spend much of their free time together, joking and laughing comfortably before and after matches. Philp explains that the team has great chemistry.

As well as within the players, the team’s bonding extends to their new coach.  “We’re starting to mesh,” Arsav says of the team and Coach Hayes. “It’s a bit different with a new coach.”  Contrasted with the previous coach, Coach Hayes is more experienced and has higher expectations, according to Arnav.  “He pushes us, but he wants us to do well,” said Arnav.  “He’s going in the right direction. And he’s funny. He’s gotten to know the players, we’ve gotten to know him, and we get along much better.  He’s been a good addition to this team.”

Coach Hayes explained how different he is from the past coaches.

“It’s only my second year here, so we are changing our philosophy,” said Hayes. As he builds his team, he and his players have plenty of hope for the future despite the losses that started off this season.

“We’re looking forward to these next few matches,” says Philp. “We’ll get some wins, and that’ll be good for us. We’re looking to continue our one-game-winning streak.” The win was especially great because a couple of the top players were injured, but the rest of the team still managed to pull through for the win.

The players could not emphasize enough how much they would love to have a crowd of supportive Mercer students attend their home matches.

Their next home match is Friday, Feb. 6, at 2:30 p.m., when they will play against Kennesaw State University.  The team’s schedule, both previous scores and upcoming matches, can be found on the Mercer Athletics website or on Mercer’s new app for students, MU Mobile.

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