The men’s tennis team played against Lake Forest this past Sunday. This meet came down to the doubles matches, which is where the Vikings took the lead, outplayed Lake Forest and took the win. Two players in particular had a big hand in this: juniors Andrea Arivella and Aiden Delgado. Delgado commented, “Our biggest accomplishment as a team was beating Lake Forest. I believe that the key to our win was our mental toughness. Historically, we have had a big rivalry against Lake Forest and our teams have not gotten along very well over the years. Throughout our matches, our opponents created several situations where we could have lost control of the match. Staying calm played a key role in our win”.
Lake Forest College tends to have highly competitive athletics, making them a great opponent. “Lake Forest has always been a tough opponent,” said Delgado. “We expected a hard match and rose to the occasion as a team. Our early lead in doubles gave us the upper hand and two singles wins were sufficient to secure the win.”
With only two matches remaining before the Midwest Conference tournament, the pressure of the season continues to increase. This pressure leads to reflection on weaknesses, strengths and goals. “I find that my biggest weakness at the moment is my strategy,” said Delgado. “Technically I would say that I am quite good, but if I would be able to combine my technique with a better strategy when playing, I would improve my game a lot,” said Delgado. An interesting fact about Delgado is that he is from Spain. Regarding this, Delgado commented, “As a Spaniard, playing tennis in the U.S. was a big change for me. I grew up playing on clay courts, which is drastically different from the hard surface we play on here at Lawrence. As a junior, I have now adapted quite well to this faster surface and feel more comfortable than I did as a freshman.” The difference between freshman year season and junior year season can be and usually is drastic. Major improvements are made as athletes continue to work hard at perfecting their sport. On top of that, the circumstances of every season, regarding team rosters, weather and schedules, is always different and somewhat unpredictable. This year has not been an exception.
This season has been a little unusual due to the inconvenient weather. Many matches have had to be moved inside rather than getting home matches on our own home courts. This disjointed season has not deterred any of the guys, however. “I began playing tennis when I was 11 years old,” said Delgado. “It was a sport that most of my family enjoyed. As I improved, I began to enjoy the sport and I haven’t stopped playing since. As a student-athlete, playing tennis has helped improve my time management skills and become an overall better student.” The reasons for playing outweigh the frustrations that come from the weather and other factors of playing.
The head coach of the men’s tennis team, Steve Francour, commented on the performance of his team this last weekend. Coach Francour said, “We came out and played strong in doubles. No. 2 and No. 3 doubles really had to work hard for their wins. In both matches we were ahead and had to finish strong for the wins. [Sophomores] Matt Chan and Evan Oriel were able to serve strong in their tiebreaker for the win. Arivella returned well in the later stages of the match to aid in the victory. Delgado and [junior] Cade Francour played very solid singles to help us get our two singles wins.” This team’s strong bond will help them grow and push further into the higher ranks of the conference as they play on in the future.
“Our goals are still to finish as high as we can in the regular season to get a good seed for the team tournament,” said Coach Francour. “Every practice is a chance to improve and get better.” He continues commenting on the team and this season, saying, “This season has been great because we have been able to win some close 5-4 matches. Our conference is very close and to come out on top with these close matches has been very satisfying. This season has had to have people step up and do more than in past seasons. It is a great group to coach. Continuing to work hard and improve will help us reach our peak potential”. The future, in terms of making it into conference, is still unknown. However, one thing is for sure: the men’s tennis team will not go down without a fight. Their final home match is this Saturday, Apr. 20, at 11 a.m. Go out and support these Vikings.