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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

Relying on experience

Senior captain Daniel Tan returns a shot at the St. Joe’s Tennis Complex (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

St. Joe’s men’s tennis prepares for individual fall competitions

The St. Joe’s men’s tennis team will participate in a number of individual invitationals and tournaments this fall to hone their skills in preparation for conference play this spring.

Lead by senior captain Daniel Tan and head coach Ian Crookenden, the team opens their slate of fall tournaments at the Villanova Invitational from Sept. 14-16. A week later, the Hawks will welcome athletes from a number of schools in the Philadelphia area to the St. Joe’s Tennis Complex for the 10th Annual St. Joe’s Invitational.

“Looking at the fall season, I’m really looking forward to the St. Joe’s Invitational,” Tan said. “As a team, I think it would be really great if the guys won the majority of their matches and got really deep in some of these invitationals.”

The fall season gives the team a chance to prepare for Atlantic 10 play.

“The whole fall semester is preseason,” Crookenden said. “We’re getting to the point where the boys are starting to get some individual competition. We’re working on getting the boys back into shape and see where they stand with growth and maturity over the summer.”

With tennis being one of the few sports that plays a schedule in both the fall and spring semesters, the length of the season becomes a factor that Crookenden and his team try to take advantage of.

“It takes time,” Crookenden said. “Right now it’s still early for us. It boils down to being ready for conference play and the conference championship.”

Tan agreed, saying he tries to not look too far ahead to the spring

“There’s so much time now to get better and see what works and what doesn’t,” Tan said.

This team however is no stranger to the marathon that is the tennis season. They will rely on the experience that their core of returning players provide.

In fact, each member of the team contributed last year, as the group came to a consensus decision that they would stick with the team they had and do without any additional freshman recruits.

“We didn’t desperately need to fill any spots,” Tan said. “I think that shows that the group we have currently, everyone is older and more experienced with college tennis and I’m really looking forward to working with everybody again this year.”

While the team will have experience on their side, Crookenden noted that they will still rely on the upperclassmen to lead the rest of the group.

“If they’re healthy, they should be ready to step up and show the maturity to their game, that’s what they keep working on and senior year is their last chance to prove that,” Crookenden said.

Tan said that it has been an adjustment as team captain. 

“It’s a big transition, going from someone who was just following to now leading everybody else,” Tan said.

While conference play may not be in the team’s immediate future, it is something that will serve as a constant motivator throughout the fall.

“The conference champion goes to the NCAA [tournament] so that is an underlying motivation,” Crookenden said. “But we want to take it a step at a time and not set goals that are too high where if something happens along the way there’s a feeling of despair. We don’t want that.”

Tan had a similar mindset in outlining his goals for the spring.

“I’d love it if we could get in the top six seeds in the A-10 this year,” Tan said. “We definitely have a chance and I’m confident that with the players right now, that would be possible.”

Overall, both Crookenden and Tan pointed out that the main goal was to improve on the foundation they built last year.

“I have confidence that they will be able to do it,” Crookenden said. “We have the talent, it’s just a matter of staying healthy and putting their minds to it.”

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