Men’s tennis season preview

After last season’s Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) semifinals loss to Eastern Nazarene College, Coach Barry Gorman and the Roger Williams men’s tennis team are ready to bounce back.

Last season, the Hawks were young. With seven underclassmen, one junior, and two graduates, the men knew how hard they needed to work to compete at a high capacity in the conference last season. This year, six sophomores return much more experienced.

These second year players know what to expect and how college play works compared to their high school teams. With only one senior, the younger Hawks need to step it up.

Every year, Gorman takes the team down to New Jersey to open the season with an invitational held by Drew University. This time around, according to Gorman, it was the best production ever.

“I think we had the best results we’ve ever had, so it’s nice to see that,” Gorman said.

Up next for the Hawks is their annual spring break trip to Orlando, Florida where they will compete against the University of Saint Francis, Springfield College, and University of Scranton. This gives the Hawks a chance to work against some strong competition before heading into the regular season.

The Hawks were ranked No. 3 in the preseason CCC polls and will have their first home match against No. 2 ranked Eastern Nazarene. How the team approaches their matches in Florida is a test for the results of their opener.

For now, Gorman is keeping his focus on doubles combinations and their practice challenge competition for the top six singles spots. To Gorman, a good showing in doubles is always key. If the Hawks can focus on getting the first three doubles victories, the pressure will be taken off in singles play. However, the team did have a competitive showing in singles play in New Jersey and was able to play smart and construct points well — all positive signs.

While crafting the doubles teams, Gorman is looking to see whose skills complement each other.

Once these lineups are finalized, Gorman can move toward the team’s long term goals.

“We definitely want to keep improving throughout the season,” Gorman said. “Even though we are still a young team, we want to continue to learn and improve.”

Like every RWU athletics team, the big goal is the CCC title. With tough teams in the conference such as No. 1 preseason ranked Nichols College, it is imperative that the men play well every match. Nos. 3, 4, and 5 were each ranked one point apart.

“We can’t think that any of these will be easy,” Gorman said.

With spring break nearing quickly, Gorman is happy with the team’s performance in New Jersey. Looking forward, the goal is to see how the team responds, and according to Gorman, they’re getting there.

The competitive schedule will be a good test for the Hawks to see where they stand, individually.

The men open against Eastern Nazarene at home on March 24 and will then head to UMass Dartmouth on March 27 to finish the weekend.