The Men’s Tennis team gets back to work this weekend

Derik Wuchte

Men’s tennis will be playing seven scheduled tournaments until the championship season begins in spring. The team has already competed in the Charlotte Invitational two weeks ago. A handful of players will be heading to Macon for the Mercer Gridiron Classic this weekend. The team has been putting in a lot of work and Head Coach Sander Koning knows it.

“It’s been fun,” Koning said. “We have a good mix of returning players and freshmen, and I think the upperclassmen are doing a good job of leading and helping these freshmen out; seeing what we want to accomplish here at Georgia Southern.”

The team has four freshmen on the roster, all of which saw playing time in Charlotte. With some slight injuries nagging the team, Georgia Southern brought a working lineup to the competition.

“It was great for the guys to see what the level is; what the expectations are,” said Koning. “It helps them gauge a little better what they have to do in practice, and weights, and conditioning. Because before that, they kind of knew, but there was more of, “Maybe this, maybe that”, and now when we went to Charlotte and played the matches: every match is competitive.”

“It’s not just one or two. Everybody had to compete. That’s what college tennis is all about. You don’t have any real easy matches anymore.”

In North Carolina, Southern saw varied competition. The team was balanced in their performance, however; some players showed up while others earned their first career wins. All-around, the team learned a lot from the experience.

“Overall, the tournament was really beneficial for us to see how college tennis really works,” Koning said. “We’ve seen a really big push from our freshmen in the last two weeks when we’re practicing, cause they now know, ‘This is what is expected of me.’ We’ve seen them pushing themselves harder and that’s what you want as a coach.”

“All the freshmen after this tournament, they’ve really stepped it up, which is good. I’m looking forward to seeing the next tournaments to see how everyone else is going to be. We’re going to be having at least two guys that were hurt back; they’ll be able to play. It should be fun.”

Starters from last year, junior Christian Kerrigan and junior Nico de Groof, will be the returned players.

Senior Ristomatti Lanne is the sole senior on the team. In the spring season of last year, he played at the No. 1 spot. His performance was excelling enough that he has been invited to play in certain tournaments this year, along with other players on the team.

“Rice is our captain right now,” Koning said. “He’s been doing a good job. He’s been really keeping the team together. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve done things that have been different from the previous year that the other coach did. He’s been really good communicating with the freshmen, with the returners; keeping guys on track. And that’s really what you ask of of your captain, the leader of your team. Fortunately, he’s had two, three other upperclassmen that can help him out with that.”

“We have three juniors, and Rice is a senior, and all the others are sophomores and freshmen. So, it’s good for them–for all three, four of them–to be able to show that leadership to those guys, and making sure that this whole team is on the same path.”

As mentioned, the team is heading into Macon with four players this weekend.

“I expect us to be very competitive,” said Koning. “With everything that we’ve seen in practice, everything that we’ve done, we should have a good showing. We should be able to show a lot of teams that, “We’re here. We’re here to compete; we’re here to make sure that no one underestimates us.” That’s really what I expect from the Mercer tournament: to have good leadership from some of the guys that are going.”

“We keep working hard this semester and I think we will have a very competitive team for our championship season.”

Georgia Southern competes in Macon at the Mercer Gridiron Classic beginning on Friday, October 9.