Andrew Darrell sets the tone for GVSU tennis
Courtesy / Andrew Darrell
Whether it’s a deafening scream heard from three courts down, or a powerful serve to save match point, junior Andrew Darrell’s presence is felt every day within the Grand Valley State University men’s tennis program.
“He shows a lot of fire from the court,” said junior Bryan Hodges. “He really motivates the team on an everyday basis, the younger guys really look up to that.”
Spirits are high right now for the tennis program in Allendale, and for good reason. Darrell is currently ranked the No. 19 singles player in the Midwest Region (Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll), which has also propelled the Lakers to a No. 7 ranking in the latest Midwest Region poll as well.
“It doesn’t mean anything unless we live up to it,” Hodges said. “Our dedication is the biggest thing. I think that over anything is going to be the biggest factor to our success this upcoming season.”
A high ranking along with added attention doesn’t just happen overnight. Especially with powerhouses such as Northwood University competing in the same conference, it takes time and dedication. Something the Lakers men’s tennis team can all agree they have plenty of.
“We are practicing literally every day now,” said sophomore Francis Bertrand. “In the earlier months, we were not as focused as we are now. To say we are taking things very seriously at this point in the season would be an understatement.”
Previously selected as All-GLIAC, Darrell will take on some of the added pressure that comes along with the added expectations and playing in the No. 1 spot for GVSU.
“We need to continue to stay focused,” Darrell said. “We expect to win the GLIAC, but you have to go and back that up. I personally want to beat every team in the GLIAC along the way.”
Not only does being the leader of a great team bring added expectations on the court, but it also adds pressure to make sure that the team chemistry is on point, which isn’t an easy task with a flock of transfers and newcomers joining.
“It’s interesting with all the new guys we have right now,” Darrell said. “The great thing is, it hasn’t been a problem at all. We are definitely more of a unit than we have been in previous years.”
As many people around the GVSU tennis community has great expectations for this years squad, Darrell continues to push the expectations further and further. For him and the rest of the Lakers on the tennis team, the sky is the limit for just how far they can go.
“You know, we are in a great spot this year to do great things,” Darrell said. “It would be a great accomplishment for us to win the GLIAC. Further on from that, I believe we have the capability to make it to nationals, and then from there, possibly the round of 16.”