Men’s Tennis is off to a strong start in the 2016 season

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Derik Wuchte

The season started with a 4-3 win over Davidson. Since that first meet in January, men’s tennis has earned a 9-4 record with a 4-1 record at home. There are 11 matches left until the Sun Belt Championship in late April. Fundamentally, the team isn’t much different from last season, but the guys have been working more and believing stronger in the program.

“The good thing is that, especially our core group of guys, the guys that lead this team, Rise Lanne, the captain, our upperclassmen; they really set a good example for the freshmen that we have,” Koning said. “By doing that, everybody gets on board. When you win, it gets a little easier because the guys see the results of being good competitors and what it can lead to.”

Last season, the team was 8-14. The Eagles have already eclipsed that record after their win this weekend against Troy, a fellow Sun Belt Conference team. Three of the team’s four losses this season have been by a score of 3-4. The fourth loss was by a score of 2-5.

“That’s what I think the main success is,” Koning said. “The most exciting thing that I’ve seen throughout the matches that we’ve won and also that we’ve lost are that they have all been close matches. The guys keep fighting and it’s not that they fight on their own court. They fight for each other. You see guys that have a couple of points that they don’t play well and then they get lifted up by the teammate that’s next to them. That’s so huge because that’s not something that I can coach. I wish I could because that would be awesome. Them embracing the culture that we have within the team and really fighting for each other; I think that’s the main key to our success up till now.”

When GSU played Troy on Saturday, Lanne was able to win his singles match and get off the court early. Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday may have resulted in a loss for the Eagles, but it was close. Redshirt-junior Daniel Casablancas was one of the last matches to finish on Sunday. He was able to pull out a last set win over Oliver Landert 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 after seeing his other teammates get their wins.

“No matter, win or lose, when the guy gets down a set, and he sees his teammate next to him running and going for balls, making sure that he keeps his energy up, it lifts him up as well,” Koning said. “It’s based on the guys and what they do in practice. We lift each other up. If somebody does have a bad practice or a bad part of practice, they lift each other up. They hold each other accountable. They’re like, ‘Hey, let’s go. We got to keep going and keep moving forward.'”

Southern will be playing the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on Saturday, March 12 at 10 a.m. This will be the last home match until the team returns to Statesboro to play Mercer on March 29.

“They know that what we do is all geared towards our main goal which is winning the Sun Belt Conference,” Koning said. “They don’t just stare themselves blind on one match. We do all this work so we can peak at the end. I think that’s very important to keep that going and not being satisfied with what we’ve done so far.”