The UTD men’s tennis team started the 2023 ASC season strong with a win against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on Feb. 4 at an away game.
The Comets led the doubles 2-1 and ended the singles 5-1, totaling to a 7-2 victory against the Crusaders at the Yvonne Li Tennis Center. Tennis Coach Bryan Whitt said he chose the lineup for the current team in the fall semester when the players had challenge matches against each other.
“The rule is [that] the lineup has to be determined by order of ability,” Whitt said. “So you have to have your best player at one, your second best player at two, and so on down to six. Doubles is the same thing, although it’s a little trickier. It’s tennis, still, but it’s a different skill set. So you have to do that with doubles as well and just kind of pairing up which two players fit together.”
The early February snowstorm halted the men’s tennis team from practicing in the weeks leading up to the game. However, players were able to work out at home from Monday to Thursday and played on the campus courts on Friday.
“The courts had a little bit of moisture on them and ice around still that kind of hadn’t melted yet, but we were able to practice a little bit on Friday,” Whitt said. “The good news is the opposing team didn’t have many practice days either. So we didn’t kind of go in cold. We were only there for a day and they were kind of in the same position.”
Unlike the previous seasons, all Division III games this season adopted “no-ad”— short for no-advantage — scoring where the player who wins the next point during a tie wins the game, rather than having to win by two points. According to graduate student Jeremiah “Jed” De Luna, no-ad scoring had no impact on the outcome of the competition.
“I think it benefits me more than my opponents because I strive under pressure-filled situations,” De Luna said. “With no-advantage, margins for errors are smaller and nervousness can start to settle in on big points, but I don’t feel like that’s a problem for me.”
De Luna said the camaraderie between new and returning players has been synergistic, even with five players from last season graduating and ultimately leaving the team.
“In past years, we’ve sometimes had a lack of unity amongst the entire team,” De Luna said. “However, since I’ve returned to the team this past fall, I’ve really worked on breaking down any walls between our teammates and getting everyone comfortable with each other. I’ve stressed the importance of having a team that is all on the same page and all on the same agenda, and I think my teammates have really bought into that.”
Despite the changes in this tournament, the team hopes to win more games and ultimately the championship. The next men’s tennis game will be on Feb. 18 at UTD against Hardin-Simmons University.
“Both the men’s and women’s teams have been putting in a lot of work, so we’d love to have any extra supporters who’d be interested in watching some tennis,” De Luna said.