Men’s tennis prepares for fall slate without head coach

Media Credit: Jack Borowiak | Staff Photographer

Assistant coach Damian Farinola has been leading the men's tennis team as the athletic department searches for a new head coach.

Men’s tennis is without a head coach as the team kicks off its fall slate.

Under the leadership of their assistant coach, the Colonials have focused on improving their fitness and consistency on the court this fall to prepare for conference play in the spring.

Former head coach David Macpherson resigned from his position in August, about two weeks before the fall semester was set to begin. He said he left to “focus solely on coaching the professional players” he worked with, according to an athletics department release.

Assistant coach Damian Farinola has been leading the team while the athletic department is “deep in the midst” of a search for a new head coach, athletic director Tanya Vogel said.

“We hope to conclude shortly with an excellent coach for our student-athletes,” Vogel said in an email.

She said the department hopes to find a new head coach “very soon,” but declined to provide a specific timeline for when the position will be filled.

For now, Farinola, a graduate student, has taken on the responsibilities of a head coach after joining the coaching staff as an assistant last season. He will continue guiding the team and running practices until a new leader is found.

“I’m just in the process, taking care of the program and just ensuring it’s in the best possible shape,” Farinola said. “I’m more than confident that the next head coach is going to come in and hit the ground running.”

The team’s fall slate consists of four tournaments and acts as preparation for the team’s spring season, the “main part of the year for tennis players,” junior Jakub Behun said.

Behun said it came as a “surprise” when Macpherson – who joined the program in 2016 – left his post. Before GW, Macpherson coached some of professional tennis’s greats, most notably Mike and Bob Bryan, who have won 16 Grand Slam titles as doubles partners. He also coached Roger Federer – the winningest men’s singles player – and three-time Grand Slam winner Stanislas Wawrinka to a Davis Cup doubles title in 2014.

“Of course everyone was a little surprised and shocked, but on the other hand, now I think we are even more motivated to bring out the best of us,” Behun said.

The team has focused on its consistency and doubles strategy ahead of its fall run, which Farinola said he would like to see implemented at the team’s openings matches at Navy Friday.

“We’re training seriously hard,” Farinola said. “It’s a proper program – that’s for sure.”

Last spring, the Colonials finished with a 6–18 record overall and 4–2 in Atlantic 10 play. The team opened the spring season with a 15-game losing streak before going 6–2 through its final eight games of the regular season.

“We had a really tough schedule. We started off by playing UCLA, Stanford and two other really tough teams in California, which honestly I don’t think we were really prepared for,” Behun said.

The team was knocked out of the A-10 Championship quarterfinals when it fell to Richmond 2–4.

Injuries plagued the Colonials last year, leaving the team with a shortened roster. Behun said the tough nonconference slate and the slew of injuries left the team with a record that did not fully match its capabilities.

This year, the team welcomes seven new faces to the program and five returners. Behun said the high level of play coming from the rookies means the team has more options when it comes to opponent-specific lineups and will have players who can step up if injuries do occur.

“When you come into college, it’s all of a sudden a team sport, so some players need to adjust and get familiar competing as a team,” Farinola said.

The Colonials kick off their four-tournament fall slate at the Joe Hunt Invitational for the fourth year in a row before competing at the Navy Blue Invitational in October. The team will then travel to Blacksburg, Va. for the ITA Regionals before returning to Navy to compete in the Gold Invitational in November.

Then-seniors Chris Fletcher and Christos Hadjigeorgiou won the A Flight Doubles Title last season at the Joe Hunt Invitational, and 2018-graduate Chris Reynolds and Behun advanced to the Round of 16 at the ITA Regionals.

Without a head coach, Behun said the team will do the best it can during the fall schedule this year and Farinola’s dedication to the team has not gone unnoticed.

“We’re all very appreciative of what he’s doing for us because he didn’t sign up for this when he came to school,” Behun said.

The Colonials will open their fall slate at the Joe Hunt Invitational in Annapolis, Md. Friday.

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