Early Success Paving the Way for Tennis Teams

Drew Eastland-

For both the Men’s and Women’s tennis teams, the fall season is a time for players to work on their individual game and gain match experience in preparation for the spring season. Both teams are off to a strong start and have high expectations going forward.

The Women’s team has played in three fall tournaments: The Charlotte Invitational, The Wake Forest Invite, and Fall Regionals. The team has performed well at all tournaments.

At Charlotte, the team faced Coastal Carolina, Charlotte, and Wofford. All of Davidson’s doubles teams won every match, and five singles players went undefeated. In layman’s terms, the team beat Wofford and Coastal Carolina while tying Charlotte. At Wake Forest, the team faced a number of strong tennis teams: Kansas State, Virginia, and Wake Forest. The team still did well backed by the strong play of Alexandra Abele ’20 and Lindsay Song ’21. Abele was the outright champion in the top flight, and Song reached the finals in the D2 bracket. “The competition we’re playing is very good,” Assistant Coach Kelly Cameron said, “[We] have handled that impressively.”

Kelly also is very impressed with how the first years, Song, Alyssa Hahn, and Nichole Krykanov ,have stepped up. She noted that they have viagra pas cher transitioned well to college tennis thus far.

“I’ve been really impressed with our freshman class so far” Cameron quipped, “Obviously it’s their first few matches and they’re nervous…they have represented Davidson well with good character and class.”

The women’s team has also seen many changes in coaching over the past year. This is head coach Susanne Depka’s first season in charge; however, it is currently Coach Cameron’s team as Depka is on maternity leave for the fall season. “It is different for me in the sense that the program has changed,” Cameron noted. “As far as our team culture goes not much has changed, because a lot of our girls are such natural leaders so they are stepping into that role a bit more.”

Members of the team second Cameron’s thoughts, and support her completely. The players emphasized that the team still has the same goal no matter who is in charge. While having to change coaches is not ideal, the team has weathered the adversity well. “Coach Kelly has really stepped in and has done a great job of pushing us and helping us to have as much of a regular schedule as possible,” said Song. “We don’t see coach [Cameron] as an assistant…we see our [coaches] as equal and we’re all just a big family.”

As previously mentioned, the fall season is a time for players to get exposure to the match setting while fine-tuning their game for the spring season. “The fall is about getting a lot of matches and experience,” said senior captain Anna Catherine Feaster. “It’s a great opportunity for us to get to see those big schools.”

According to Feaster, the goal is to win the A-10 conference championship this spring. To do this means dethroning quality programs like VCU and UMass. Davidson narrowly fell to UMass, the eventual conference champion, last spring. “We have the best team we’ve ever had right now” said Feaster. “We need to have that belief that we are one of the best teams in the A-10.”

Up next for the Women’s team is the Kitty Harrison Invitational on November 3rd. This will be their final tournament of the fall season.

On the Men’s side, the goals for the fall season remain similar. Led by four strong seniors, the Men’s team also has a shot at the A-10 conference championship this spring. They have fallen as the four seed in the A-10 for three straight years and are looking to finally knock the bitter taste of defeat out of their mouth. Evidently, that starts with a strong fall showing.

“The fall is a great time to get good experience,” acknowledged senior captain Jack Riazzi.“For the five freshman, this is their first experience with college tennis.”

Fellow captain Dave Hagar ’18 followed up by noting, “This is definitely the strongest team I have ever been on in my four years at Davidson. A lot of guys can play at various spots which is a good dilemma to have.”

Head Coach Drew Barrett is pleased with the team’s progress thus far. Through three tournaments, the team has performed well. The team faced stingy competition at the regional tournament and wins were tough to come by. “Overall, things are on path for where we want them to be” Barrett said. “We want the guys to hit their developmental goals and progress on that straight-line path.”

Some players on the team have admitted to struggling with new techniques as they attempt to break old habits. The fall is a great opportunity to work on technique, but this can cause frustration.

Former A-10 rookie of the year Axel Fries ’20 is one of those players. As a first year, Fries provided a strong tennis prowess to the team, and is looking to do so again this season; however, he is wrestling with new techniques this fall. “What I have been working on has been frustrating; when you change your game, obviously it’s not going to work right away,” Fries said. “It’s so easy to get frustrated and let that frustration take over, but the more you practice it the better it works.”

One of the biggest moments for the men’s team was Artem Khrapko’s ’18 win over Christian Seraphim, who was seeded fourth at regionals and is a top seeded player in the county. Khrapko’s win was a hallmark for the team.

“This is the biggest win any of the seniors have had in the last four years,” said Fries. “It was big for his confidence.”

This fall, one area the team is really focused on is footwork. Coach Barrett has emphasized this numerous times as a key to the team’s future success. “Our coach is really drilling footwork into us,” Riazzi said. “When it comes down to that pressure moment against Dayton in the tournament, you are not going to be thinking about how you’re moving your feet, so you have to do that now.”

“Footwork is huge in tennis,” Fries went on to say. “If you move your feet well, if you get to the ball, if you’re in the right position to hit, that is when you’ll hit the best shot.”

If Davidson tennis players can keep their feet moving, the sky is the limit for this team. With four strong seniors, former A-10 rookie of the year Axel Fries, and talented freshmen Yash Parikh, the Wildcats should be a force come springtime.

Up next for the Men’s team is the Charlotte invite on October 27th, and then the Wake Forest Invite from November 3rd to 6th. The Women’s team will head to Chapel Hill on November 3rd until the 5th to play in the Kitty Harrison Invitational.