Veteran men’s tennis team gears up for season

| Sports Reporter
Eric Marcus | Student Life

Senior Gary Parizher follows through on a serve at the Lynn Imergoot Invitational on Sept. 16, 2012 in St. Louis. Parizher is one of five seniors on the men’s tennis team this year.

Coming off an 18-8 season and a trip to the NCAA Division III Final Four for the fifth straight season, the Washington University men’s tennis team returns to action on Saturday against Division II Drury University. The Bears begin the season ranked No. 4 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III top-30 poll.

The team boasts 14 returning players, including its entire starting lineup from last season. Senior Adam Putterman enters the season ranked No. 3 nationally in singles while junior Tim Noack earned a No. 9 singles ranking in the Central Region. Seniors Gary Parizher and Kareem Farah are ranked No. 18 and No. 24, respectively, in the region. Even with these individual accolades and high expectations, though, the focus has been improving on last year’s finish as a unit.

“We definitely have team goals to win a [University Athletic Association] championship, to win a national championship.” Noack said. “For me, personally, I just want to do my best to help us do that. I’m trying to be one of the best singles players at my spot in the county.”

During the past four weeks of practice, head coach Roger Follmer instituted “Technical Tuesdays” every Tuesday to work on fundamentals and basic technical aspects of the game. Follmer picked up the idea from a tennis workshop he attended in Tampa Bay, Fla., over the holiday break.

“Technique has really been emphasized for the past four weeks,” Follmer said. “We’ve done specific drills to help explain things like the actual path of the racket for the volley, always out in front toward the target.”

Even some of the more experienced players have been receptive to “Technical Tuesdays” as basic fundamentals of the game often take a backseat when playing at a competitive level.

“We try to work on our technique and things you aren’t often taught as junior players, like working on volleys and serves,” Noack explained. “Sometimes, [Follmer] will have us play out a match using one serve instead of two serves. It’s really difficult, but I think it really helps us focus on other aspects of the game.”

Follmer has also stressed the importance of doubles play as a key ingredient in the team’s success this season. Adam Putterman and sophomore Ross Putterman begin the season ranked No. 9 in the Central Region while Parizher and junior Jeffrey Hirsh are ranked No. 14 in the region. While Follmer is considering toying with some of his other doubles pairings, he plans to keep his successful teams intact.

“The key has been good communication and protecting our serves,” Adam Puttterman said of his success with Ross Putterman. “We have great chemistry on the court, and we get along really well.”

The five seniors have adopted a bigger leadership role, mentoring the younger players so they can benefit from the older players’ experience.

“I think all of the seniors have really taken on a lot more responsibility this year, and we’ve all come together to take on more of a leadership role,” Adam Putterman said. “We all focus on developing together and helping each other out on the court.”

Drury, which began its season on Feb. 2, is 2-0 after defeating the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, 7-2, and Washburn University, 7-2. Looking forward to Saturday’s matchup, Follmer hopes to get a better read on the Bears’ strengths and weaknesses. The two teams were evenly matched last season when the Bears edged out Drury, 5-4.

“That was the first time we had beaten them,” Follmer said. “I’m sure they are going to want to avenge their loss from last year.”

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