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Men’s tennis preview: Rodecap looks for depth, young returners to avenge BIG EAST title loss

Photo by Maggie Bean

Photo by Maggie Bean

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Coming off a 15-9 dual match season and a devastating loss to Butler in the BIG EAST title match, Marquette men’s tennis is aiming for the title in the 2017-’18 season.

This will be head coach Steve Rodecap’s 15th season with the Golden Eagles. He has led his team to winning records in 11 out of the last 12 years. After losing three key players from last season to graduation, including Nick Dykema, who played the third-most singles matches on this team, Rodecap’s job this year will be difficult. “We have a lot of firepower,” Rodecap said. “But our leadership is going to have to take a step,” Rodecap said.

Junior Greg Anderson, who went 18-14 in singles play, has hit with the new freshmen and is optimistic about what they can do. “Historically, we’ve been stronger in the back positions, so four to six,” Anderson said. “With the addition of these new guys, we’ll be stronger at each position.”

Anderson will be joined by sophomore Brett Meyers, who posted a singles record of 16-3, the best mark on the team. Sophomore Luke Smrek, Anderson’s doubles partner, will also return this season. The talent is clearly there; the tougher part for Rodecap is finding out who will assume leadership responsibilities.

“That’s going to be a critical component for us this year; to see which guys want to stand up and take some leadership responsibilities that were left behind by (the seniors’) departure,” Rodecap said.

Marquette will have no shortage of competition in BIG EAST play. The Butler Bulldogs are of particular note; the Dogs came back from a 3-1 match deficit to leave the Golden Eagles with the conference runner-up trophy for the third straight season. “Butler is the one I really want to win this year,” Anderson said.

If the Golden Eagles are to overcome that hump, two newcomers will have to provide some help. Eddie Griesedieck and Julian Robinson are new additions to the men’s tennis lineup and could reinforce the rotation.

“One of the real big strengths of our team is we’re gonna have some depth and a lot of competition, some internal competition, to get on a bus and get playing time,” Rodecap said.

That depth may come in especially handy on days with two matches, where players tend to get tired and fresh reserves of energy are at a premium, especially in the back of the rotation.

“We can get our lower guys up higher, so they’re competing against better guys to try and give them opportunities … I can push guys up (in the rotation) and draws by position to give them stronger, quality matches,” Rodecap said.

Among the returners, Rodecap is particularly looking forward to Meyers, a sophomore who played mostly No. 6 singles last season. He didn’t start in the lineup due to a knee injury in the fall last year and once he got an opportunity, he took advantage of it.

“If you would’ve asked me at the beginning of the fall if I expected that from him, I can’t expect that,” Rodecap said.

“All of these guys are here for a reason,” Rodecap continued. “There isn’t a guy in our program that I don’t think can really contribute to what we’re doing come the middle of April.”

The men’s tennis team won’t kick off its dual match schedule until January, but Sept. 20-24 is the Milwaukee Tennis Classic, which will be an early indicator of the team’s potential.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Men’s tennis preview: Rodecap looks for depth, young returners to avenge BIG EAST title loss”

  1. Grandpa on September 12th, 2017 5:23 pm

    Great article very informative and not one negative statement Not like reading the trib

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