Men’s tennis shows promise for spring

Adith Sekaran
David Leonard

The Washington University men’s tennis team had a very strong showing at the 2006 Wilson/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Central Region Singles Championship, capped by a singles championship by freshman John Watts. Another 6 out of the team’s 12 singles players made appearances in the Round of 16, with 4 making the quarterfinals.

The tournament consisted of a 96-player singles draw, a 64-player doubles draw and an additional 64-player singles draw for those spillover players from the first singles draw, according to sixth-year Coach Robert Follmer. Some 24 schools from all over the Midwest were represented in the tourney.

Besides the singles success, doubles also had impressive performances, namely the team of sophomores Trevis Bowman and Nirmal Choradia, who made it all the way to the final match before falling to DePauw University in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.

DePauw proved to be one of the strongest tennis teams represented in the ITA. For this reason, Fullmer was proud of the fact that the team competed at that squad’s high level of play.

The real story of the weekend, though, was the emergence of Watts, who did not lose a single set and is likely to be a strong addition for this team come spring season. Sophomore Charlie Cutler, who was a semifinalist, had only respect for the freshman from Marietta, Ga.

“He’s a great player,” Cutler said.

In terms of Cutler’s own game, he has plans to improve his semifinal appearance into finals appearances and hopefully, championships.

“I was happy about how I played but disappointed that I didn’t win,” stated Cutler.

With this being one of the last team competitions before the actual tennis season in the spring, the team has high expectations for the season. Junior Charlie Howard thinks this might be the year for the team. “[I believe this is the] most talented team Wash. U. has ever had. We can compete with Emory – a top rival in the conference,” declared Howard.

Follmer echoed Howard’s ideas, pointing to the team’s success so far compared to last year. The team sent only three people into the Round of 16 last year, while double that number double advanced this year.

The team also had a good outing the week before the ITA in the Washington University Invitational which included four other schools. While these wins are exciting, Follmer wants the team to stay focused until spring.

“[I’m] hoping that they stay motivated and keep working on their games,” said Follmer.

Besides the Alumni Fundraising Tournament in early October on the new campus courts, Follmer does not have any interaction with most of the players until the spring season.

The one exception to that rule is Watts, who is going to the Small College National Championships hosted by the Florida Gulf Coast University, where all the regional winners of ITA events will compete.

Follmer also emphasized the importance of succeeding academically during the fall semester before the pressures of school and tennis take over second semester, particularly for the first year players.

“[I want a] 3.5 GPA across the board for the freshman.”

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