This year’s new men’s tennis team has a new look, and it isn’t what the tennis aficionado would expect.
With 11 brand new players, majorities of which are American, Head Coach Trey Heath said that having more players from the United States was definitely a goal of his for this season.
“It’s always been something I have been shooting for,” Heath said. “We needed to replace a lot of players, and it just happened this way. I have nine Americans and three international players on this team this year.”
After losing 5 all-academic seniors in Benoit Paradis, Carl Lundburg, Nathan Leavitt, Vlad Barabesh, Robbie Palmiotto, Heath said the team will start over fresh with a new mindset.
“We have to start over,” Heath said. “This is my eighth year here, I have never brought in more than three players, and to bring in 11 in one year, that is a lot. It’s exciting though.”
Heath said that the challenge of creating a team that contains a majority of American players is something that he embraces.
“People have said this can’t be done, and I’m a guy who said ‘you know what, let’s try it,” Heath said. “Maybe we can change the perception of what people think Division II tennis is. For me, I just like a cool challenge.”
Charles Garneau is the only returning player for this year’s new squad, and Heath said that while he doesn’t have an extremely vocal personality, he does lead with example.
“He has done well,” Heath said. “When it comes to doing stuff around the courts, he is setting the example. He’s doing well. He also has massive responsibilities outside of the court as well. He’s an RA, he’s in the real estate club he’s a senior. I do want him to lead by example though.”
With two big tournaments coming shortly for the team at Embry-Riddle on September 12-14 and at Home for the NCAA Southern ITA tournament September 26-29. Heath said that it will be a great experience for the new players. Playing against the defending national champs, and three teams in the top 5 from last year..
“It will be good for us,” Heath said. “The guys need to see where they need to be. Everyone is really good. I want them to know that it’s okay to get beat, but let’s learn from it.”