Men’s tennis coach Steve Rodecap believes that his team is the deepest Marquette has ever had. This belief leads to high expectations from Rodecap, who will see hisGolden Eagles open up their season Saturday morning against Western Illinois at the Helfaer Recreation Center.
Rodecap believes this is a very talented group but was quick to point out that the team still needs work on its fitness this early in the season.
“We’re not in the best shape we’ve ever been in, but that’s to be expected this early,” he said. “No one is going to push themselves as much as I am going to push them. … I feel like these guys are very committed to their fitness, and it has won us a lot of matches in the past.”
As far as leadership this season, Rodecap will look to his three seniors, Niko Boulieris, Mark Rutherford and Dusan Medan. He will also look for the younger players to continue improving their game, which Rodecap believes will happen rapidly.
Medan, who is currently 17 wins away from setting Marquette’s record for all-time singles victories, believes he is in great shape for the season but doesn’t let the record get to his head.
“I don’t think about it that much. … I just do what’s best for the team,” Medan said. “Tennis is an individual sport but in college, it’s all about the team.”
Medan added that his true hope for the season is to help the team earn a national ranking. He believes the team can achieve the ranking because, in his opinion, it is his best team in the past couple of years.
The player leading the charge for a national ranking is already ranked himself. Freshman Jacob Straus enters the season ranked 124th in the country. In the fall, Straus led the team in singles wins with 13 and is currently ranked 17th in the ITA Midwest Rankings. However, he pays little attention to the numbers.
“It gives me a little more confidence, but at the same time, I really can’t think about it too much because it’s just a number,” Straus said.
What Straus will use from the fall season is the experience he gained playing against tough competition.
“I feel like I know what to expect now with a semester under my belt,” he said. I’ve seen what it takes to play with good people, and now I can just work on that.”
Rodecap is wary of his team’s first opponent but trusts his team to get the job done.
“Western Illinois is going to be a good team,” he said. “They’re scrappy and they always compete well. But we will be more concerned with ourselves. Early on in the season I always worry about our concentration, and I want our focus to be there.”