Depth on display for men’s tennis at Principia College
The Washington University men’s tennis team gave some of its less-experienced players a chance to make an impression at the Principia College Invitational last weekend.
The Bears responded in convincing fashion, taking four of seven singles flights and one of three doubles flights against the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Truman State University and Principia College.
Freshman Naveen Chadalavada complied a 3-0 record in singles play to win the No. 3 singles flight. Chadalavada also teamed up with freshman Max Franklin to win three doubles matches and take the No. 1 doubles flight.
“I feel like I was hitting the ball a lot better this weekend than I have in a couple of weeks,” Chadalavada said. “I was serving a lot better. The forehand was coming around. Hopefully I can do that the rest of the season.”
Franklin finished 2-1 in singles overall. After losing his first match on Friday, he did not drop a set in his next two matches.
“I’ve been working a lot with coach [Follmer] on volleys, getting in to net on doubles and taking returns early,” Franklin said. “My mental approach has also gotten better. [I am] staying level-headed on the court and staying consistent throughout the match.”
Senior David Zhu, freshman Jeffrey Hirsh, and sophomore Seth Sankary each posted 3-0 singles records and won flight Nos. 4, 5 and 6, respectively. Freshman Tim Noack continued his impressive first season, posting a 2-1 record in singles. Sankary and Noack also went 2-1 in doubles.
“[Noack’s] composure on the court is the best on the team. The guy doesn’t get rattled,” head coach Roger Follmer said. “You know what you’re getting out of Tim Noack when he steps on the court. He’s going to battle. He’s not going to fold under pressure.”
Follmer believes that this weekend’s performance not only proved that some of his young players were ready to be significant contributors this season, but also set an example for the rest of the team about the importance of heart and commitment.
“You can see a little bit of the ‘eye of the tiger’-type thing, especially in Max [Franklin] and [Tim] Noack. I love to see that, and it’s contagious for other guys on the team to see that,” Follmer said. “When you play a ranked team, I’d like us to just go out there and play as hard as we can, and those guys are good examples of that. They’re going to play hard, and you’re going to have to beat them.”
Follmer described the freshman class as “quiet and sneaky,” in that they were not the highest ranked recruits, but they have embraced the mentality that hard work and composure on the court enables them to compete with any opponent.
“It just comes down to how bad you want it, and those guys have shown that [they want it],” Follmer said. “Who cares who you beat in the 16s and the 14s [high school competitions]? Who are you beating today? These guys are starting to step up and show that they can beat guys that are four-star recruits on other teams.”
The Bears will try to adopt this mentality when they return home to face Division II No. 20 Northwest Missouri State at the Tao Tennis Center on March 11-12, at 3 p.m.