Although the men’s tennis team has a long road ahead, they started off 2020 fairly well with a 6-3 win against St. Mary’s last weekend.
This season, they have brought in two new freshmen, but the majority of the team consists of upperclassman: seven out of the 10 total. The team’s veteran expertise provides them with a key advantage, and tied in with Coach Steve Francour’s 30 years of experience — seven at Lawrence — men’s tennis hopes to be formidable this season. A preseason coaches poll recognized the Vikings’ strength, picking them to finish second in the Midwest Conference.
“It’s nice to have experienced players,” Francour said. “I know what to expect from them and can trust them in pressure situations.”
Francour also expressed concern for next year’s season, stating how he is losing a lot of seniors (half of the team), which he must try to rebuild through recruitment later in this coming year. The team’s small roster sparks other potential roadblocks.
“Our team will hopefully stay healthy throughout the season,” Francour said. “With a small roster, injuries can be impactful to our success, but this team likes to work hard and have high standards for each other. The team can experience great success because it works hard and pushes each other to be good.”
Following the first game against St. Mary’s, Francour spoke on the team’s success.
“In our match against St Mary’s, our doubles was excellent,” Francour said. “To win two close matches at #1 and #2 was great to see. Both those teams have played together and it showed. Our #3 team is new, but showed great promise with a victory. Singles was solid and everyone played well. St. Mary’s has presented problems for us in the past, so it was expected to be a hard match. It was their fourth match, so they were more match-tough. It’s a good start to a long season. We strive to work hard each practice and match and improve every time out.”
Next I sat down with sophomore Cameron Strawn to get an insider’s view of how the game went and to help capture the jitters of a new season.
Quick: Now that you have played at least one college level season, how do you think this season will compare to the last? In other words what’s different? What skills did you gain and what new goals are you pursuing?
Strawn: I feel like this season will compare better than the last season. Going through this match I felt much better about it than I did my first match last year due to my newfound experience. I feel like from this match, I gained a better understanding of how difficult this season will be along with how playing doubles feels generally.
Quick: Why do you think you guys were so successful in the St. Mary’s game? How do you think you did? What were your strengths and weaknesses in that game?
Strawn: I believe we were successful due to our tenacity. Even though some players were down in scores, they managed to pull through their matches and come out on top. I believe my strength was that I knew what changes I should make to my game plan when I began to struggle against my opponent, and I feel like my weakness was that I was caught off guard by many of the changes my opponents made during the beginning of the match.
Quick: From a sophomore perspective, what do you think is going to be the most challenging part for the freshmen? And as a sophomore, what is it that you are still struggling with?
Strawn: The most difficult part is being able to truly recognize yourself as a member of the team and believing that you have gained the respect of the other players on the team. I would say the one thing that I am struggling most with would be having to readjust to playing in matches again. Also the smell of some of my teammates is probably the hardest thing to get used to.