Decisions are made in split seconds on the tennis court. Fire a backhand winner? Play a short defensive slice? Members of the men’s tennis team are under immense pressure to make the right choice every rally.
After one weekend of play, coach Steve Rodecap said the team chose incorrectly too often.
“We need better decision making, especially in pressure,” Rodecap said. “In practice, we’re putting a larger emphasis on playing the higher percentage shots, and I think we’re doing well.”
Rodecap said poor decision making was expected at this point in the fall season. He had mixed emotions from Marquette’s first outing last weekend, the Milwaukee Tennis Classic.
“I would say our returning guys from last year did a really good job,” Rodecap said. “In singles they did a good job competing, digging out matches even though they weren’t playing great. Sometimes the younger guys struggle with their nerves and being tight. But we expect that in the younger guys.”
Sophomore Dan Mamalat may be an underclassman, but his play stood out just one tournament into the year.
Mamalat went undefeated in three matches and was runner-up in both singles and doubles, with his partner junior Juan Carlos Gutierrez Crowley.
Weather conditions made it difficult to be successful.
“The conditions outside were a bit rainy, and we really couldn’t get our muscle movements,” Mamalat said. “We adapted to the rain well, but it’s tougher to get going. And the muscles aren’t quite as warm as they should be.”
The weather is expected to be threatening this weekend as well, as the team heads to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Fall Invitational.
Mamalat will not travel with the team to this tournament but sees this weekend as a learning opportunity for those that will.
“The biggest key is for guys who didn’t take a step forward to take a step forward and get some wins and get people to judge themselves,” Mamalat said.
Senior Jonathan Schwerin said Marquette can use practice to improve its decision making—a problem that plagued the team last weekend.
“In practice, instead of going for a big shot, we should go for something defensive,” Schwerin said.
He did acknowledge that the season is young and the problems can be corrected in time.
“Right now, I think we’re still a little rusty from the summer, since we were all away from competition for so long,” Schwerin said. “Every one of us has a chance to improve going forward.”
Schwerin said the team’s relative inexperience has created a void of leadership. Multiple players have stepped up as leaders.
“Our leadership seems to be distributed between juniors and seniors,” he said. ”But Dan (Mamalat) seems to be leading us by example and vocally. But it’s not just one person individually. It’s spread around.”
Mamalat concluded that visualizing success can really help the team achieve that improvement.
“I try to visualize the points I’m going to play and how I’m going to play them,” Mamalat said. “I try to imagine what I’m going to do, and how I can isolate someone’s weaknesses.”