by Kristina Anderson–
Of the 11 players on the Virginia Tech Men’s Tennis team, six will not return next year. With more than half the team graduating, 2017 will present a challenge for the program.
This fact became a reality as the team celebrated Senior Night on April 15 for the players graduating in May.
Men’s Tennis Athletic Trainer, Lewis Young, says that while tennis is an individual sport, the team dynamic plays an important role in performance.
“Being close and having team cohesion is huge in this sport because tennis is so mental and everybody feeds off each other for energy,” said Young. “When the energy is positive you see a huge difference in practice and matches, but when the overall energy is poor you see a slide in mental focus and performance from a majority of the team.”
Players compete in individual matches as well as doubles. They are also individually ranked in the ACC, which determines future matches.
Young says that next year will prove challenging as the team will have to integrate a new group of players, as well as fill leadership positions.
“There’s no doubt about the fact that next year is an uphill climb for the team,” said Young. “I think the biggest challenges lie in re-building the cohesion with a new group of guys while at the same time working to reach the same performance level that they’ve had these past few years with our six seniors in charge. We have a lot of new guys coming in to replace the six seniors graduating which will be great, but they definitely have some large shoes to fill.”
Young says the team’s focus right now is on the upcoming ACC tournament. However, he says that one of the program’s main goals is for returning team members to step up into leadership roles. He says “if we can achieve that goal this program is going to re-build just fine.”
No new recruits for the team have been announced. However, the program has a history of recruiting foreign talent. Portugal, Brazil, Australia, Italy and Denmark are all countries represented by graduating seniors.
Andreas Bjerrehus, Amerigo Contini, Aaron Gomez, Joao Monteiro, Rafael Ribas and Edoardo Tessaro will graduate from Virginia Tech in May 2016.
George Cartledge, Jai Corbett, Mitch Harper, Jason Kros and Freddy Mesmer will return to the program next year.