Marquette Wire

After slow starts, freshmen Verdu and Anderson leading men’s tennis

Duo ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in wins on team

Greg+Anderson+%28left%29+and+Alvaro+Verdu+%28right%29+have+made+significant+adjustments+to+their+styles+of+play+this+season.+Left%3A+Photo+courtesy+of+Maggie+Bean%2FMarquette+Athletics%2C+Right%3A+Photo+by+Ben+Erickson%2Fbenjamin.a.erickson%40marquette.edu
Greg Anderson (left) and Alvaro Verdu (right) have made significant adjustments to their styles of play this season. Left: Photo courtesy of Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics, Right: Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Greg Anderson (left) and Alvaro Verdu (right) have made significant adjustments to their styles of play this season. Left: Photo courtesy of Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics, Right: Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Greg Anderson (left) and Alvaro Verdu (right) have made significant adjustments to their styles of play this season. Left: Photo courtesy of Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics, Right: Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

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At 10-9 on the season the tennis team has been anything but consistent. However, freshmen Alvaro Verdu and Greg Anderson’s play has remained consistent. With a record of 10-5, Verdu is tied for the team lead in wins during dual action play, while Anderson, with nine wins, is second.

“The consistency is what is different (about the freshmen),” head coach Steve Rodecap said. “If you look at our results, if we didn’t have our freshmen right now we would be in a world of hurt.”

Although both players are enjoying success now, the paths to prosperity were quite different.

Rodecap’s hometown of Anderson, Indiana is named after a Native American chief. When Anderson came to Marquette at the beginning of the semester after transferring from TCU, Rodecap, inspired by his hometown, felt that “Chief” would be the perfect nickname for his new player.

“It kind of fits (Greg’s) personality because he is very methodical like a chief,” Rodecap said. “He is going to have that serious side of him and all of his ducks are going to be in a row.”

Anderson embraced the nickname, getting “Chief” embroidered on the tongue of his new tennis shoes. Just as Anderson has embraced the nickname, his teammates have embraced him. As a mid-season transfer from TCU, Anderson’s transition hasn’t been perfect, but he has adjusted.

“Greg played his first practice set here, and he wasn’t very good in it,” Rodecap said. “I didn’t put any stock in that. Obviously we played it for a reason, but it wasn’t like I thought there was no chance for this guy. The reason you trust him is because when you put him out in a competitive environment, even when he isn’t playing well, he still wants to compete.”

Anderson owned up to his dreadful first day.

“When (that match) happened I was pretty discouraged,” Anderson said. “I knew I wasn’t playing good tennis at that time. Once I got acclimated to the indoor courts, the practice schedule and school I got in a good rhythm, and as I got in that rhythm, I played better and better tennis. As the season has gone on I have been able to raise my level.”

Verdu wasn’t without a freshman mistake either. He grimaced when Rodecap brought up a match earlier in the season that Verdu should have won easily, but ended up just squeezing out a win in a tiebreak.

“It was a 10 point tie-breaker,” Rodecap said.

At the No. 2 singles position, Verdu has been called upon to be one of the team’s top performers – a role he is now comfortable in after making a few adjustments to his forehand.

“Since the season has been moving forward I have been playing better every day and I can say I am almost at my best level,” Verdu said. “The first half of the season I was struggling with my forehand. If I am feeling my forehand I know I will have a lot of chances to win a match…Since I wasn’t feeling my forehand I was scared to hit it. I wasn’t preparing the shot in the right way. My footwork was a big part of that change.”

Although their success has been similar, Verdu and Anderson approach tennis with two different mindsets.

“You want me to tell you the difference between these two guys?” Rodecap asked. “If you went out and played a set against (Verdu) right now you would win. If you go out and play (Anderson) in a practice set right now you will get drilled. (Anderson) doesn’t like to lose in anything. (Verdu) has that ability that once he deems what a real match is, he has a different gear that he can play in. What is good about it is that you have two different personalities in the same class that are going to be big contributors. There are going to be guys behind them that are like (Verdu) and guys that are like (Anderson) and you have that balance.”

The two have moved past any early-season jitters. All eyes are focused on one thing: winning the BIG EAST Championship.

“I need to focus on maintaining a good rhythm and follow my rituals that I like to do on the court,” Anderson said.

“He is the Chief,” Rodecap quickly added with a laugh.

“I see the tournament as an opportunity to show what the Marquette tennis program is,” Verdu said. “Marquette has never won a BIG EAST Championship so I see that as an opportunity to make history.”

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