By Chuckie Maggio, @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure men’s tennis team is back in action today, as they kick off the 2013 SBU Fall Classic. The three-day event will be a chance for the Bonnies to win some matches and improve after they struggled at the Navy Invite three weeks ago.
“We have to stay positive,” said senior Javier Ortiz. “We were really frustrated (at the Navy Invite), throwing rackets and getting down on ourselves. We just need to keep our composure and play good tennis…. The goal is obviously to win every match, but we just need to get better match-by-match.”
“If they’re losing, but they’re playing strong, fundamental tennis, it’s a positive in my book,” said head coach Michael Bates. “We play in both the fall and spring seasons, so it’s all about them improving individually and getting better every day.”
When Coach Bates was asked about what makes Ortiz such a good player and leader for the team, he said, “Javier is in better shape than he was last year, and he has such a powerful forehand that it makes him tough to beat. He’s a role model for the younger players, and he pushes everyone to be their best.”
One of the most difficult parts of coaching a tennis team is getting the lineups and pairings together.
“The beginning of the season is where we try to get the pairings down for doubles matches,” said Bates. “It’s our time to see which players play well together to give themselves the best chance to win.”
The Bonnies have four freshmen that have experienced a big obstacle since joining Division I tennis.
“They’ve had to adjust to the faster pace,” said Bates. “They were the best players on their high school teams, but now they’re forced to start from the ground up.”
Bates acknowledged that the competition this weekend won’t be as fierce as it was in the Navy Invite, but for a young team winning matches are extremely important no matter who you face.
“If we come out strong and keep our composure, this will be a very good weekend for us,” Bates said.