The first game of the season for John Brown University’s tennis teams could serve as redemption, both from last semester and last season.
The Golden Eagles will compete against Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. on Feb. 19 to begin their 2016 season as they did last year. A win for either team would end a year’s worth of losses against Hendrix, both from last year’s regular season and this year’s offseason. Wins would also start the season off on a high note—something the men, who started off their season 0-5, suffered from last season.
The matches will be played in best-five-out-of-nine fashion. Each match will have three initial rounds of doubles and six rounds of singles.
Victory in Conway would contrast last season’s first match, which was lost under nearly identical circumstances. The 2015 season began in Conway against Hendrix, but the men lost by a score of 8-1 and the women by a score of 7-2.
During the offseason, the Golden Eagles battled Hendrix at home. Both of the teams lost their matches—the men by two points and the women by one.
Nathan Kuykendall, freshman, said the team has been deciding which players would be the best fit to square off against Hendrix.
“We’ve been talking about what happened that evening so that we can build the lineup that will best suit them,” Kuykendall said. “We’ve played them, and hopefully we can take them on their own territory this time.”
Senior, Benetton Lee, said that his team has been training specifically for the upcoming match. He said their conditioning and training is geared toward addressing Hendrix’s strengths and capitalizing on their weaknesses.
“[We’ve been] focusing on our opponents’ weaknesses and moving our feet,” Lee said. “We tend to not move our feet and wait for the ball to come to us. I think that’s really important, to go after the ball against Hendrix.”
Fellow senior, Krizana Saucedo, expressed confidence for her team in the match. She said that part of what will earn the Golden Eagles victory is not only preparing physically but also preparing mentally for the match.
“[We need to be] mentally prepared, keep practicing hard and going in with a strong mind of ‘we have the talent and the capabilities to win,’” Saucedo said. “We need to make sure we stay on point with that.”
The women’s team’s confidence for their match against Hendrix carries over to the rest of the season as well. Sophomore Clare Holden explained that the women’s experience as a team amplifies their confidence.
“Last year, we had so many new freshmen and new people on the court,” Holden said. “Now that we have one year of experience under our belt, those freshmen and the expertise of the upperclassmen, I think we’re going to have a really exciting season.”
As for the men, a drive coming from within is what stimulates their confi dence. Lee mentioned that his team has had a competitive spirit that he has not seen in past years.
“My previous years here, I don’t think we’ve had a very powerful need to win,” Lee said. “We lacked a lot of confidence. This year, we have a lot of confidence in the new people, which gives us upperclassmen more confidence.”
Next Friday, the Golden Eagles will take to the courts at 2 p.m. and face their opponents. They are excited and ready to start the season off on the right note.
“During our previous matches with Hendrix, we’ve always lost,” Lee said. “This time, we’re ready with all the practice we’ve had…We’re a good team this year.”