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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Men’s tennis fights injuries


Navy Invitational brings challenges to end the fall tennis season

The St. Joe’s  men’s tennis team traveled to Annapolis, Maryland this past weekend to compete in the Navy Invitational from Nov. 10 through Nov. 12. The Hawks fought through a number of injuries, and the lack of success on the scoreboard did not reflect the many positive takeaways from the weekend.

Head Coach Ian Crookenden said his team played well, but knew the challenges of playing the team’s first indoor tournament of the year.

“The indoor game is much more of a power game than it is a control game,” Crookenden said. We were standing way back on the first day, as if we were playing outdoors, but we adjusted our game and stepped in as we progressed through the weekend.”

Playing indoors gives tennis players the opportunity to be much more aggressive. There are no weather related conditions, such as wind, impacting the  flight of the ball. Due to this, playing indoors allows players to step in and hit much more offensively than they often would outdoors.

“There were a lot of positive takeaways from the weekend,” Crookenden said. “But from a coach’s perspective, it was a little skewed.”

Crookenden expected to be playing outside this weekend, and be able to assess the team’s final outdoor match of the fall season. But the weather had other plans, forcing the players to compete inside due to extremely cold temperatures. This meant  the Navy Invitational was much more of a preview for the coming winter season, rather than a culmination of the fall season.

Senior captain Tim Stierle agreed with Crookenden, and said there were many positive takeaways from the weekend.

“I think overall the team played well,” Stierle said. “But I think we could have played better, particularly in doubles. We performed very well in singles and we all fought very hard and never gave up, but we really need to improve our doubles play.”

Stierle was one of a number of Hawks who were hampered by injury or sickness over the weekend. Stierle has been hampered by problems stemming from an injury he sustained in the summer. But he refused to use it as an excuse for his 1-3 results over the weekend.

Other injuries sustained by St. Joe’s included junior Andre Fick going down with an ankle injury on Friday, leaving him unable to play for the rest of the weekend. Freshman Johnny Massart did not even travel with the team due to flu-like symptoms and sophomore Nathan Fioravante dealt with an achilles injury.

Stierle emphasised the fact  doubles play needs to be improved going forward. Finding combinations that will work before the winter season is very important . The Hawks had experimented and found combinations that worked during the outdoor season. However, that success did not translate to indoor play.

Experimenting with different partners is something Crookenden said the team would test in the coming months. Crookenden knows he has a strong  roster, and is not afraid to give players deeper in the roster more playing time if they prove they are deserving.

“There will be utilization of talent deeper on the squad,” Crookenden said. “This is due to different styles and experiences of players that are better suited for different conditions.”

Stierle also added that changes in certain technical aspects of the team play would result in improved doubles play.

“Heading into the break we need to work on the little things,” Stierle said. “We really need to work on volleying and finishing points.”

Being more aggressive at the net is one of the major aspects Stierle would like to see the team improve upon.  Apart from a few specific question marks, Stierle is very confident in this roster going forward.

“If we keep putting 110 percent into our singles matches, and continue to improve on the doubles court, we will be heading in the right direction,” Stierle said.

The Hawks will look to improve over the next couple months with their winter season opener beginning on  Jan. 27 against Chestnut Hill College.

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