The Drexel men’s and women’s tennis teams went to Virginia Jan. 20-21 to compete in the Virginia Commonwealth University 4-1 Tournament. Both teams competed in three matches, but only the men came out with a victory. The teams came back to Philadelphia with few positive results to show, but the coaches feel they made real progress in the first matches of the winter season.
“We haven’t been to this tournament in a long time because we usually went to a different tournament in the fall,” assistant coach Mehdi Rhazali explained. “This year we thought it would be better for the team to play in a competitive tournament like this closer to the all-important spring season. The experience they gain from facing off against VCU and Campbell [University] is huge for the team.”
The men were swept out by Campbell and VCU on the first day of matches but were able to bounce back with a thrilling win, three matches to two. The fact that the team was able to keep its head up after a tough first day shows that they are strong and ready to compete this year in the Colonial Athletic Association.
“At VCU and Campbell, tennis is the main sport. It is what they do,” Rhazali said. “We knew they were going to be tough, but the fact that we won that third match allows us to look back and be proud of the way we played.”
The women, on the other hand, were not able to come up with a win at VCU, but their coach says that they really grew as a team and had the right mindset. The women faced off against VCU, Campbell and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
“I thought resultswise we had a really tough weekend, but what really gave me joy was to see we competed,” assistant coach Filip Kricka said. “Their attitude was really the best I’ve seen it this season. They didn’t hang their heads, and they kept on fighting until the final point.”
Both teams were able to bounce back from the tough weekend and win at home over St. Francis University (Pa.) Jan. 22. The teams showed a lot of growth with their ability to bounce back and win after the disappointment they had in Virginia.
“I thought it was great how we came out and won a match we should have and needed to win,” Rhazali said. “We just need to work on getting mentally and physically stronger, and we will be able to compete with any team in our conference.”
Next up for the men is Morgan State University Jan. 29 in the Armory. They will be looking for their third straight victory after dropping the first two dual matches of the season. This will be the second of a three-game homestand where the Dragons know they need to pick up all the wins they can in Philadelphia.
“We need to win these games so that our seeding is favorable for the CAA Championships in the spring,” Rhazali said. “The higher the seed, the longer you can go without facing the top teams in your conference. We know if we get early-round wins, we will be able to build on that and then beat the top teams.”
The women have off until Feb. 5, when they will go up against Coppin State University. The goal until then is to work on conditioning and rest their minds and bodies.
“Whenever you have a break like this, the most important thing to do is work on your conditioning because you don’t have much time during the season to do so,” Kricka said. “We will work on individual things as well just to tune up the games, but the main thing is getting the mind and body ready for the rest of the season.”
The teams are off to a rough start, but the coaches see the teams moving in the right direction and can see the light at the end of the tunnel that leads to more wins later in the season.