By Cristiana Votta
With negative results becoming a trend in play, the men’s and women’s tennis teams look to increase the quality of performance in this week’s upcoming matches.
Rider has fallen to four MAAC rivals in its last set of matches. The men were defeated by Queens College (7-2, 1-0 MAAC) in a 2-7 match on March 29, Wagner (1-8, 0-4 MAAC) in a 3-4 match on March 30 and Monmouth and Loyola (MD) in a 0-7 shutouts, while the women lost to Wagner (4-9, 1-3 MAAC) on March 30 by a score of 1-6 and were also shut out by Loyola (MD) and Lafayette by a score of 0-7.
Head Coach Ed Torres emphasized the importance of learning new things throughout a year of play.
“To improve in tennis, you must put in countless hours on the court, hit thousands of practice shots and play many competitive matches,” Torres said. “We do all of that in the course of one season of collegiate play.”
As the weather this semester has been poor, the Broncs have had to continuously adapt to the hardships that surround them.
“The unusual weather made practicing outdoors difficult during the early stages of the spring season,” junior Sean Sweeney said. “Snow and cold temperatures have forced our team to practice on the indoor courts at Mercer County Park more often than we would have liked.”
In addition to dealing with less than ideal playing conditions, the Broncs have faced other setbacks such as injuries.
“A major downfall this season is having injured players, thus leading to different lineups and opportunities for other teammates to play,” sophomore Leonora Paul said.
The men are set to take the road to Lafayette on April 6 and return home for matches against Saint Francis and Philadelphia on April 10-11. Heading into this new week of play, the Broncs look to gain some momentum.
“We are looking to go out and put together a good team effort,” Sweeney said. “Even if we don’t get the victory, winning a few points would go a long way for our confidence.”
The women are also trying to change their fate as they head into this week’s matches against Delaware State on April 8 and Saint Francis on April 10. After each defeat, they have looked at the lessons to be learned.
“We are becoming more confident by doing more skill-focused training, pushing ourselves harder and focusing on specific things that we know need work.” Paul said. “Also, having Assistant Coach Rick Strandskov alongside Torres has made great improvements and changes to the team as a whole, leading us to become a stronger team.”
Although the teams’ futures are unpredictable, the Broncs are keeping a sharp eye looking forward and intend on improving with each competition.
“We work very hard at practice every day,” Sweeney said. “Even though the results on the court during matches aren’t there yet, we are making progress and getting better.”
With the MAAC championships just a short month away, each win and lesson learned is essential to the success of the Broncs. Rider looks to put it all on the line as do-or-die time rapidly approaches.
“I am looking to play my best and play each game like it is my last,” Paul said.
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