Men’s tennis facing early season foe: sickness

By: Zuhayr Alam

After an 0-4 start to the season, the men’s tennis team is looking to rebound in a big way in the coming weeks to reach their lofty goals for the end of the season. However, the team’s slow start can largely be blamed to a number of key players falling sick in past weeks.

Head Coach Brian Suiter said that, despite the slow start, the ultimate goal is winning State.

“Every season our ultimate goal is to win team State, but we also like to set realistic goals along the way,” Suiter said. “We have a tough district tournament, but also have the players to give us a good opportunity to win the tournament and the district outright. With an expanded state field of eight teams this year, we have a good chance of qualifying for State this year as well.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.01.53 AMSenior Johns Hopkins commit Vineel Mallavarapu thinks that the team’s early record is not reflective of its performance.

“I feel that the season is going well, but I feel that we as a team have much more potential than our results so far have shown,” Mallavarapu said. “Everyone is continuing to work on their weakness in practice and are pushing each other on the court, and I feel like we will improve over the course of the season.”

With so many familiar faces on the court, the coaching staff was able to change how the team prepared for this season.

“With so many returning players, we could focus in earlier on the areas that needed work and we had a much more straightforward process of deciding who was going to play doubles together,” Suiter said, “so those decisions were a little bit easier this year.”

Mallavarapu is looking to improve on his previous performances at State.

“Individually, I feel that I am playing well. Despite a close loss to a good Ames player in our first meet, I feel that I have played consistently well in my other matches. I have improved several aspects of my game, and I think that if I stay focused throughout this season, I feel that I have a good shot at winning State,” Mallavarapu said. “I have been playing USTA tournaments all year round, and the competition level is very high, and that prepares me well for high school season. I’ve basically been playing consistently throughout the year, and I think this year I have really worked with my mental maturity on court, and I feel that this will help solidify the consistency of my game.”

Mallavarapu said that his changing role on the team over the years is very interesting.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.03.18 AM“In a way, it’s kind of strange seeing the transformation of my role on the team throughout the years. As a freshman I was at the end of the lineup, and now I am leading the team off at the top position. But also, I feel that this season will be memorable, and most of the guys on the lineup are seniors as well, and we feel a sense of unity in that it is our last season, so we have to step up and show what we have learned throughout the past years of high school tennis,” Mallavarapu said. “It’s a sad to think it’s close to the end of my high school career, but as I look back, I have really enjoyed all my experiences through the Cedar Falls Men’s tennis program.”

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