Confidence high for men’s tennis

Even if the men's tennis team doesn't win another match, it has already had a successful season.

Marquette pushed several ranked opponents to the brink, was nearly unbeatable at home and earned a No. 4 seed in the Big East Championships on the backing of a 16-7 record.

But the Golden Eagles feel they will win another match, and if coach Steve Rodecap has his way they'll win more than one.

"Our goal is to win the whole thing, and I don't think that's asking too much," Rodecap said. "We can compete with anyone."

The Golden Eagles have been hot lately, posting a seven-match winning streak before falling to No. 44 South Florida on Monday. In fact, the only thing hotter than the team's recent play is the Florida weather that the team must play in for the upcoming Championships held on South Florida's campus.

Despite the recent loss and different playing conditions, Rodecap feels his team isn't at a disadvantage heading into the season's final stretch. If anything, he thinks those downfalls work to Marquette's benefit.

"We're extremely confident and feel we have momentum," Rodecap said. "It's funny because even though we lost to South Florida we were handling the heat much better than they were."

"We want to win, but we'll learn more from the loss," junior Mark Rutherford said. "We know how we match up now."

Marquette has leaned on the experience of its senior leaders, Trent Hagan and Stephen Shao, most of the year and has looked to talented juniors Dusan Medan and Niko Boulieris for big wins. Still, Rodecap insists that there isn't one key player on the team.

"This team doesn't have one go-to guy," Rodecap said. "The team looks to each other. We need wins from everyone, and luckily everyone on this team is capable."

Although Rodecap's squad is gunning to take down No. 1 seeded Louisville and defending champion Notre Dame, it will have to go through No. 5-seeded DePaul first.

"Our rivalry with DePaul gets pretty heated," Shao said before the season. "After Wisconsin-Madison, they're the team we look forward to playing most."

For the Golden Eagles to sneak past DePaul and then topple conference giants like Louisville and Notre Dame, Rodecap said what the team has to do is very simple — believe. The team has the right pieces — with a perfect blend of hardened veterans and young talent — to make a serious run at the championship.

"I think this team is ready," Rodecap said. "We only have one freshman who plays singles, and he's won his last two matches. And I don't think we've had a match all year where everyone has played well, yet we still have won a lot of matches.

"All we need to do is believe, and the thing is, we do believe."

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