“I told the guys from the moment I got in here: you can set a legacy. You are able to do something that nobody has done in Georgia Southern,” said Head Coach Sander Koning.
Koning, senior Ristomatti “Rice” Lanne and the rest of the men’s tennis team at Georgia Southern have been on a good track through the fall season. The team has been collecting wins at various tournaments and it has been showing in their performances.
This weekend, the team was split in two: one team went to the NC State Invitational in Raleigh, NC while the other team stayed home for the Georgia Southern Championships.
Sophomore Eddie Landin, a player that went to North Carolina, was able to make it to the finals of his draw. The tandem of junior Nico de Groof and freshman Adam Brown made it to the semi-finals of their team draw at Georgia Southern.
Sophomore Joan Carles Alcala won up to his semi-finals match in North Carolina as well. Freshman Marvin Spiering in the Georgia Southern Championships got to the semi-finals too.
Many of the players saw multiple wins during the weekend. Freshman Andre Johnson, freshman Evan Pelavin, Rice and junior Christian Kerrigan were among the ones claiming victories over the three days of competition.
Koning and Rice both had a few words to say before the tournaments. With how the team is shaping up and getting ready for the next part of the season, positivity has been in the air.
“We have a really good group of players and the new guys are learning quick the stuff that took us a little longer last spring to remember,” said Rice. “They’re hard competitors, and it shows in the tournaments. They can stick around a long time and really go after the wins. We have so much time to practice for the spring so I’m expecting us to do really well. It’s just important to stay healthy. That can prevent us from doing well.”
Rice has filled one of the team captain positions on the team this year. Last season, he played at the No. 1 spot and earned a post-season accolade of being on the Sun Belt All-Conference First Team.
“But then, my style is to lead by example,” said Rice. “What I’m doing daily, I try to show the guys how things are done. And of course, it helps if I play well. They see that if you do this stuff everyday, you will be successful.”
Koning has shared sentiments.
“The biggest thing with Rice, other than being a role model: he helps a lot of the guys on the mental aspect of things,” said Koning. “He helps them by talking about how to play certain guys or how guys plays; how the level is. By having the results, he backs up what he tells the guys. I think that’s very important because you can talk the talk, but if you don’t walk the walk then… you know. It’s tough to keep guys believing in you or respecting you in that way.”
The team has been finding individual wins throughout the fall season. Only two tournaments remain for men’s tennis before the team season begins in January.
“Whenever somebody plays Georgia Southern, they have to bring their A game. If they don’t bring their A game, we’ll take advantage of it,” said Koning.
“If we would lose, the opponent should have that feeling of, ‘Man, I never want to play this team again because they keep fighting; they keep battling.’ We strive for on and off the court excellence. If we are able to do that and have the upperclassmen instill the culture of this program into the young guys, then we have a continuous cycle of excellence.”
Nov. 6th through Nov. 8th will be the Wake Forest Invite. Southern will be in Winston-Salem, NC competing there that weekend.