The Drexel men’s tennis team returned to the courts Jan. 26 to visit St. Francis College in New York following a close 4-3 loss against Lehigh University. Head coach Mehdi Rhazali squashed any notion that the team dwelled on any “what if” scenarios following the match.
“We work hard on fixing what we need to improve on and keep it simple. We move on and look forward to the next match. We don’t go over ‘what if’ because it’s not going to help us get anywhere,” he continued. “Instead, we look at what the players think and share with them what the coaches think, look at videos we take during matches to help the players see what we are talking about and understand it better.”
The post-Lehigh analysis the coaches and the players made seemed to make a huge difference as the team did not leave empty handed. The Dragons put on a clinic against St. Francis, winning 7-0. In the doubles matches, juniors Badr Ouabdelmoumen and Daniel Hansen shut out their opponents 6-0. This score was duplicated by senior teammates Skyler Davis and Paul Stauskas in their doubles match. The team dominated five of the six singles matches. The one close call came when Ouabdelmoumen won his first set 6-5, but then followed up with a convincing 6-2 win in the second set.
When asked whether he was surprised at the lopsided result, Rhazali said he was not taken aback. “I wasn’t surprised when we won 7-0. We have played St. Francis before and we beat them 7-0. However, this is tennis and anything can happen. We expected to win and I expected that our players [would] focus better and not adjust their level to the opponents’ level[s] and we also focused on fighting for every point and play smart but aggressive,” he said.
The men’s team improved to 2-1 with the win and now head to New Jersey to face Saint Peter’s University Feb. 2.
Meanwhile, the women’s team’s scheduled match Jan. 31 against the University of Pennsylvania has been postponed until further notice. Considering the proximity, it could be strange to call it a road match, but Rhazali emphasized the opponent’s strength and not distance from Drexel as the reason he scheduled the Quakers.
“I picked Penn and Temple [University] because they are solid teams and good competitive matches so it doesn’t make a difference if it’s near us or far from us,” he explained. “The bonus for us is that we are playing near our campus and we can have fans supporting us which definitely help us feel like we are playing a home match.”
It has been a relatively dominant season for the team as they have completely shut out their opponent 7-0 twice and won 5-2 their last time out against Lehigh. Still, it is very early in the season, and addressing the issue of gunning for a potential perfect season seemed a bit unnecessary to the head coach.
“We are not focusing on being undefeated,” he stressed. “We are focusing on improving every week and fight for every point, winning will come along when we do these small things the right way.”
Rhazali continued, “As long as we stay focused and healthy, I think we can do very well this season. The team is solid from top to bottom, we have an opportunity here and we are going to do our very best to take it and go one step at a time.”