Men's tennis team prepares for pivotal conference matches
Heading into two matches that had the potential to define its season, the Grand Valley State University men’s tennis team, winner of five of its last six, will try to continue its hot streak against two vaunted conference foes.
When the Lakers take on Wayne State University on Friday morning, something will have to give between the two teams. Wayne State has won five straight matches and will likely enter the match against GVSU undefeated in the conference, while the Lakers have lost only once since mid-March.
Things will not get any easier next week for the Lakers as the team will take on No. 12 Northwood University, who is also undefeated thus far in GLIAC play.
Senior Pat Snyder, who has been hot as of late with four wins in his last four overall matches, said it is do-or-die time for the Lakers.
“These upcoming matches are crucial,” he said. “In order for us to ensure a spot in the NCAA tournament, our backs are kind of against the wall. We need to come out and focus and play the best level of tennis that we can and try and win these big matches.”
As the importance of each game for the Lakers continues to mount, so too does the pressure on the shoulders of the players. GVSU head coach John Black said the team has the talent to outperform their opponent, and now is the time to execute.
“We need to go out and just play solid tennis,” he said. “We don’t have to do anything spectacular. When you push it too much, that’s when the pressure can get to you. When you go out and you think ‘I have to play out of my mind,’ you tend to force it, and your play tends to drop.”
Doubles play may dictate the result for the Lakers. In each of its past six wins, the team took at least two of the three doubles matches. Conversely, in its past three losses, GVSU dropped the overall doubles battle.
“Our doubles teams have been working together for a little bit now, which means they’re gelling together and finally getting that cohesion that we need to succeed,” said sophomore Josh Kazdan. “As long as our doubles come through and our singles maintain their focus, we should have a very strong finish.”
Pitted against the top competition in the conference, Black said another key will be for the Lakers to keep up their solid, dependable play.
“A big thing is staying calm; staying cool,” he said. “We need to maintain a consistent level. If your play is going up and down, you’re going to lose the close matches. If you play consistent, you’ll end up winning the close ones more often than not.”
The match against Wayne State will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, followed by a 2 p.m. Tuesday matchup against Northwood. With good weather the matches will take place outside at the tennis courts.