Junior Graham Lehman returns the ball during practice on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 on the Ulrich Varsity Courts at Goodman Campus. Lehigh will host the Patriot League Kickoff on Friday, Oct. 16. (Brian Reiff/B&W Photo)

Lehigh tennis teams preparing for Patriot League Kickoff


The men’s and women’s tennis teams have become accustomed to winning after making deep runs in the Patriot League Tournament for the past few years.

Starting Friday, both teams will begin competing in the Patriot League Kickoff.

“Last year we lost in the quarterfinals, which was the worst result in my three years,” senior Jeremy Kochman said. “We are used to being one of the top teams in the league, and we are going to do everything we (can) to be back there this year.”

The men’s quarterfinal loss to Boston University marked the team’s worst finish since 2009.

As for the women, the players have enjoyed similar success with appearances in Patriot League tournaments. But this year, Wouter Hendrix took over as head coach and the team made it back to the semifinals for the first time since 2009, while also finishing with a 12-9 record.

Kochman also discussed being part of a younger team and the importance of ensuring that players were both mentally and physically prepared going into league matches against teams with more experience.

“We have looked good at points this fall, but we have also missed some opportunities as well,” Kochman said.
“Sometimes just not hitting shots in the right spot, to just overall lack of execution. This weekend we will need to tighten it up and hit our shots.”

The  Mountain Hawks performing well against Patriot League opponents in the fall sets the tone for what to expect in the actual season, given that this season consists of only exhibition matches. So far this fall, the men’s team has competed in the St. Joseph’s Invitational, the Lehigh Invitational and the Princeton Farnsworth Invitational.

The women’s team has competed in three invitationals as well, including the Navy Invitational, Army West Point Invitational and the Lehigh Invitational.

“Focus is the key to being successful this season,” junior Jessica Graham said.

Sophomore Jack Petersen also discussed the importance of the fall season to the team’s freshmen. Recalling the way he used this time to solidify his position just a year prior, he said that this year’s freshmen should use the off-season games to ensure they are prepared.

“All four freshmen bring something different to the table,” Kochman said. “Each one of them has had their good days and bad days so far in the fall. College tennis is a huge adjustment and it usually takes them some time to adapt. There is no doubt in my mind that every single one of them will contribute at one point or another this season.”

The tennis teams will look to gain attention in the Patriot League with an upcoming game stretch. It will also aim to get back into its winning ways under Hendrix.

The teams’ strategy throughout the Patriot League Tournament is to take each match one serve at a time and for players to execute on every one of their shots. By taking each match in such small steps, the team feels as though it will be at an advantage with increased focus.

The Patriot League Kickoff will take place in Bethlehem at the newly renovated Ulrich courts from Friday to Sunday.

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