The Marquette men’s tennis team split up last weekend to compete in both the Ball State Fall Invitational and ITA All-American in Tulsa, Okla.
The pair of tournaments were a chance for players to improve individually rather than compete as a team, and coach Steve Rodecap said he took plenty of good and bad from the players’ performances.
Rodecap traveled with the squad that played at Ball State, which included sophomore Cameron Tehrani, freshman Javier Varela Hernani and sophomore James Stark.
Rodecap was pleased with the trio’s performances, as each player advanced at least one round in singles, and with the reports he received from Tulsa’s showings.
“With my group, I saw several guys make some progress in singles, and now it’s just a matter of maintaining it,” Rodecap said. “I saw (Tehrani) do a much better job of being physical the way that we expect him to be and need him to be, so it was nice to see (him) kind of turn the corner a little bit.”
Moving forward from a busy weekend, the Golden Eagles’ focus will be improving their consistency, which Rodecap stressed goes beyond playing well when they’re feeling well.
“The thing that now we are trying to push on these guys is that you have to be a certain level every day regardless of whether you’re feeling your forehand that day or feeling your serve that day,” Rodecap said. “There’s an expectation of the level you should compete at regardless of how things feel on the court from day to day.”
Sophomore Vukasin Teofanovic had the best showing in Tulsa, advancing to the third round of the pre-qualifying singles bracket before falling in a heartbreaking 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 loss to Utah’s Alejandro Medinilla.
“I had opportunities,” he said. “I was up 5-3 in the second set, but I couldn’t close it out. It’s really hard to stay mentally focused after the missed opportunities and to stay in the match.”
Teofanovic echoed his coach, saying that the team, himself included, needs to pick up its consistency and work out the kinks in the fall.
“I think some of the guys are struggling to be consistent, it being so early on in the year,” Teofanovic said. “Some of the guys can be consistent maybe for a match or even a full day, but once the next day comes, they don’t keep their level of play at the same level.”
Rodecap said Marquette particularly still needs a lot of work with its doubles play but that the time to configure pairings will come. Now he is focused more on working with each athlete individually.
“I still see some individual weaknesses from everyone, and a lot of them are the same,” Rodecap said. “They keep coming back to haunt us when we get it in live situations. We’ve kind of looked at teams a little bit, but that’s not necessarily how we’re going to be better in January.”
As far as how to go about that, Rodecap plans to use a tried-and-true personal method.
“My personal philosophy is that you work from the bottom up, as you want to make your worst day better and not always try to duplicate your best days,” Rodecap said. “That’s what we’re working on with these guys – being better on days that they don’t feel necessarily at their best.”