Adversity is a fundamental element of playing sports, and though the Florida Southern Men’s Tennis team has suffered difficulties in their season, the players are not allowing adversity to keep them from prevailing.
This year, eight of the 12 men’s tennis players are freshmen, which has created a new dynamic for the team.
According to Head Coach Trey Heath, the team has a talented squad of players. They are young and they work hard. However, the atmosphere of collegiate tennis is different and has been an intimidating factor for the new players.
The pressure of playing at a high level took a toll on the team this season, and they were not able to start off on the right foot.
“I think because of our youth and inexperience in college play it took us some time to get used to college tennis in Florida,” freshman Nathan Jones said.
Despite the setback from an unfamiliar environment, the team has played a lot of close matches. According to Heath, the talent is there but the team needs to learn how to finish their matches strong.
The Mocs have seven matches left in their season. Two of their four upcoming matches are against big national powerhouse schools, while the other two are against schools they know they have the ability to beat. If they play with confidence and strength, they will be able to bag some wins.
To prepare for these upcoming tournaments, Heath is helping the young players overcome fear.
“I continue putting them in those situations that they have to figure out how to get through,” Heath said. “We have done a lot of mental work.”
As for physical condition, according to Heath, the players are at their peak level.
“Coach puts a lot of emphasis on being physically ready for matches so we have to do a lot of working out in the gym and hitting on the courts,” Jones said.
According to Heath, the team’s lack of success has also been due to an absence of leadership. This season’s team only has one senior who is trying to manage the eleven other men, a virtually impossible position. Heath is looking for younger players to step up to the plate.
“It doesn’t have to be the best player,” Heath said. “It has to be someone the players respect. I’m starting to see some of the guys falling into those leadership roles on the court.”
As for end of the season goals, Heath wants his players to bring their game at a more competitive degree against opponents to whom they have previously lost.
“I would love to see us go in and perform at a higher level than the first time we played teams,” Heath said.