Tennis team reaches for excellence

It’s the first week of the regular tennis season, and John Brown University’s tennis players already have a lot to talk about.

“The teams we’ve played so far have gotten better,” said senior captain Alex Baker. “I can only expect the teams that we will play will be better as well. They’ve improved every year. I mean, so have we, but some of them have gotten nationally ranked; some of them are undefeated at the current moment, even at Division II and Division III levels.”

So far, the men’s and women’s team have played two matches against Hendrix College and College of the Ozarks. The men’s team lost both matches; the women’s team split the two, taking the victory over Ozarks.

According to freshman Grace Cusick, splitting the matches was a good indicator of where the team stood.

“We lost one of the matches, but we won the next one,” said Cusick. “I think that really helps us, because the loss showed us what we really need to work on. It just got us ready for what is to come in the season.”

Although the men’s team did not emerge victorious, according to Kumhal Fulghem, the two matches provided an opportunity for personal success.

“Those were two fun matches,” said Fulghem. “It was my first match as a number three as a freshman, so it was a little stressful at first. But as I was playing, I was like, ‘This is my time. I can show what God has given me and what I’ve worked for to get here now, and to prove that I have what it takes to stay up with everyone else.’”

While neither of JBU’s tennis teams hold a winning record, the season is far from over, with plenty of games to improve on. Silva is particularly looking forward to playing more games during the first weekend of March.

“We’re hosting a two day back-to-back tournament on the 6th and 7th of March,” said Silva. “We didn’t get to play back-to-back at home last year, so that’s an exciting opportunity to get to come out and play.”

According to Silva, the competition against opponents is not the only thing that has become more intense. The intensity within practices has as well increased.

“I think that coach is pushing us to be more disciplined in practice,” he said. “Practices are more rigorous now, and we’re asked to give a little more compared to last year. The intensity level has ramped up a little bit more, and I think that’s a good thing going forward.”

Baker also sees benefit in the intensity of the practices.

“This team has a lot of potential; they just need to crack down and be more disciplined—myself included—when it comes to practice,” said Baker. “In matches, we have a ton of potential to do really well, but we just have to stay focused against our opponents.”

According to Cusick, the team has adopted a focused attitude that they hope will take them far.

“I think we’re all really focused and really pumped for the season,” said Cusick. “Our end goal is just to do our best and we’ll see where that takes us.”