Though the men’s tennis team’s fall season does not count in the standings, the Colonials’ individual players have a lot on the line.
With no seniors and just one junior on the team, the fall tournaments – including last weekend’s D.C. Metro Invitational held at Georgetown – serve as vital evaluation tools for second-year head coach Greg Munoz. With good performances, players can make their case for a high spot when the spring season arrives.
“These guys are very hungry to prove themselves,” Munoz said. “We are a very deep team, but they all have a lot to prove. They’re all fighting for their positions.”
Munoz said his team has “a lack of experience at the college level,” but he added that with fresh faces comes a determination to demonstrate the skills that brought them to Division I tennis.
Tournaments like the Metro Invitational are good opportunities to adjust to the higher level of play and figure out what needs to be improved for the spring season.
“The guys are experimenting with playing at a higher level than junior tennis, so they’re going to make a lot of mistakes,” Munoz said. “They’re also trying to learn how to develop their game. They’re showing me how much fight they have, who fights the hardest, who does well under pressure – these factor into the spring season.”
Freshman Ugur Atalay, a native of Turkey, had no problem adjusting to the college level at the Metro Invitational. Despite being unseeded, Atalay made his way to the finals of the singles tournament before losing to UMBC’s Fredi Voorhman.
Freshman Richard Blumenfeld lost his first collegiate match at the University of Virginia Fall Invitational during the second weekend in September but bounced back by winning his next three.
“It felt good,” Blumenfeld said. “It was a good way to start my college career.”
Junior Ryan Schlachter, the team’s only upperclassman, said he is optimistic about the young team. He has taken on a leadership role by sharing his relative wealth of experience with his teammates. Along with sophomore captain Eric Hannah, Schlachter has focused on teaching the younger Colonials about the program.
“So far I’m very pleased with the talent that we have,” Munoz said.