Story by Bella Buck, Saint Reporter
Image courtesy of aqsaints.com
“Our season has not been bad, but it is not up to the standards we have come to expect, and we are not satisfied with our results thus far,” said Aquinas men’s tennis Coach Jerry Hendrick in a recent interview. The men currently have a record of 9-5 as they enter into conference play on April 6, in a home matchup against the University of Northwestern Ohio.
Heading into spring break, AQ tennis suffered two losses to Wayne State and Ferris State. However, the men made a big comeback down in Florida, where they went 7-1 during the week. “Our whole team bonded really well,” said senior Evan Taylor. “The last match was the most difficult. We came out and played very hard, and it could have gone either way.”
Following their Florida success, the team has been on a match play break since their loss to Davenport on March 16 — their last three matches against Taylor University, Grand Valley State University and Hope have been canceled due to conflicts with getting court times. “I think we actually needed the break,” said Taylor. “We’ve been playing some pretty decent teams. I think with some time off, being able to train and focus, we can have a better comeback if we play a better team later.” Taylor also hopes the break will allow the men to recover from a series of team injuries to their knees, elbows, arms and shoulders.
Off the court, Coach Hendrick has a different goal for the men’s team that is more important than winning matches. “Aside from our competitive objectives, our primary goal is to help prepare our guys, particularly our seniors, for the next chapter of their lives. We want them to be tough and resilient, but also kind and compassionate toward others. We want them to work and play hard, but also keep things in their proper perspective.” Hendrick continues, “In sum, we are mainly trying to prepare our guys for a successful and meaningful life after college. In that respect, I am not disappointed in our team or our progress at all. We’ve got a great squad of young men and I am confident that they are going to do good things with their lives.”
With a busy April ahead, Coach Hendrick looks forward to getting back on the court. “Our goal every year has always been to compete for the conference championship, and to qualify for the national championship tournament in Mobile, Alabama. Anything short of that is a disappointment.” With six matches remaining, the men hope to end with a winning conference record, as they did in the 2016-2017 season (5-1).