This weekend’s Milwaukee Tennis Classic will be Marquette’s first chance at competition this fall, and the Golden Eagles are ready to hit the ground running.
Marquette will be one of four men’s teams playing in the tournament at The Town Club in Fox Point, Wis., beginning Friday, and it will be a chance for coaches to evaluate their veterans’ improvement and their freshmen’s incoming skill set.
Men’s coach Steve Rodecap is ready to see what his players can do now that many of them have some familiarity playing at the college level.
“This year our sophomore class has a year under them, and two of our returning players will be juniors this year,” Rodecap said. “I expect them to get over the young issues they had last year and be ready to be more consistent on match days, which will really be key for this group.”
Rodecap said experience was an issue last year and that it had an impact on the team’s performance at times.
With several returning players this fall, Rodecap believes that the sophomores this year are ready to make the maturity jump and help incoming players adjust.
“The biggest thing is we have a returning group that has a lot more experience now,” Rodecap said. “Last season was a lot of inexperience and people trying to find their way, but I thought our talent level was really good and that we were competing at a really high level.”
The two freshmen on the roster, Gleb Sklyr and Javier Varela Hernani, will be closely watched, particularly in this weekend’s tournament.
Sophomore Cameron Tehrani is hoping they can make an immediate impact.
“We expect a lot out of them,” Tehrani said. “We expect them to come out, show up, compete, play well and play hard. It’s their first event so there’s always room for a little error, but we expect a lot out of them this year.”
Junior Logon Collins is eager to see how far this year’s team can go with the depth it has.
Collins said one of the team’s advantages will be its chemistry, which is especially important in tennis since it runs throughout most of the academic year.
“We have most of the team coming back, so we’ll have great team chemistry and we’ll be really deep this year,” Collins said. “All the guys know coach’s expectations, so I think we’ll be doing well.”
The fall is used as a tune-up for the major matches in the spring, but Rodecap has no plans to ease up on the accelerator.
“We’re going to try and get guys in uncomfortable situations, playing in spots they might never have played in before,” Rodecap said. “The whole bottom line with the fall is we need to be the best team come Jan. 19 when we play Notre Dame. You have to hammer home how important it is to win matches at this level.”
Collins welcomes the challenge and hopes it plays to his advantage. The junior’s goal this season is to become ranked in singles play, and he would like to see the team become a force at the national level.
“I want the team to be ranked, so I think we’re all going to have to make a statement,” Collins said. “Every team, we’re going to have to beat and try to make a statement.”
Other men’s teams competing in the Milwaukee Tennis Classic are Wisconsin, Ball State and DePaul. Marquette’s first match will be a doubles match Friday against Wisconsin at 11 a.m.