North Texas Daily

Schedule sends tennis to 3-8 season start

Schedule sends tennis to 3-8 season start

Schedule sends tennis to 3-8 season start
March 04
22:48 2015

Saad Yousuf / Staff Writer

The Mean Green tennis team is off to a rough start this season, posting a 3-8 record, but the team is more focused on learning from every loss as it pushes toward the Conference USA championships.

“Anybody can look at our record and say we’re getting killed, but I feel like it’s quite the opposite,” sophomore Alexis Thoma said. “If you look at our matches, there are really just a few points here and there that could have flipped the score for us in our favor.”

Part of having some early struggles has to do with the schedule the Mean Green has faced so far. Five of its eight losses have come against ranked opponents, and in most of those matches the team just couldn’t close it out. Head coach Sujay Lama said that will have to change.

“It’s hard to pinpoint why exactly we haven’t been able to close, but the fact of the matter is we have not,” Lama said.

Not only has the Mean Green played worthy opponents, it has also only played in Denton twice so far. Lama said he helps make the schedule and the lack of home meets is a necessary evil.

“We get a chance to make the schedule. Having said that, because of the weather and we don’t have an indoor facility here, we’ve got to schedule a lot on the road in January and February,” Lama said.

Lama also said even though he has the freedom to make the schedule, he can’t spread the opponents out in terms of difficulty the way he would like to.

“Some of the power conference teams, you don’t get to play them in March and April because they start their conference schedule,” Lama said. “So to play the Oklahomas, the A&Ms of the world, we have to play them in January and February. So yes we have choice, but we don’t have much choice.”

The arduous early schedule is something junior Anastasiya Shestakova said the team embraces because of the payoff later in the season.

“I think the schedule is good for us because we are playing very tough teams, and when you compete with tough opponents, you get better,” Shestakova said. “It will help us be strong during the C-USA championships.”

In addition to the schedule, the weather has not been on the team’s side. The team played what was technically a home match last weekend against No. 59 University of Tulsa, but it was moved to Southern Methodist University because of bad weather. The team ended up losing to Tulsa. Thoma said the team has to be versatile and ready for anything.

“You have to mentally prepare yourself,” Thoma said. “You can’t be just a one-way player, like outdoors or indoors. You have to adapt.”

As far as turning things around, the team doesn’t think it is too far off from where it wants to be.

Lama said it’s just a matter of time before this group starts winning and forgetting about the bumpy start. It will become easier for the Mean Green, as five of its final six matches will be at home against unranked opponents.

“As I coach, I know it’s going to happen,” Lama said. “If we just stay healthy, and I think that’s the key, healthy physically and mentally. If we can stay positive, sooner or later, it’s going to happen for us.”

Other than having faith in this group, Lama said his teams usually  get better as the season progresses.

“Part of it is that you challenge them with different scenarios and hopefully it’s building them. It’s building character, chemistry and hopefully confidence,” Lama said.

The team will travel to San Diego, California, this weekend to play the University of San Diego at noon Saturday as well as San Diego State University at 1 p.m. Sunday. Lama said the team is focused on the matches it has in front of it and will use what happened the past few months as experience.

“Everything we are shooting for is in front of us, not behind us and that’s the wonderful thing,” Lama said.

Featured Image: Sophomore Alexis Thoma starts her back swing as a tennis ball flies toward her during a match against Stephen F. Austin State University in early February. Photo by Evan McAlister – Staff Photographer 

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