Senior Tyler Hansen prepare to return a serve Monday at the Ulrich Varsity Courts. Hansen and his partner, junior Dylan Karchere-Sun, reached the championship round of the team's opening weekend at Saint Joseph's University.

Tennis teams ready to host Lehigh Invitational

Junior Dylan Karchere-Sun getting ready for a serve while playing a one-on-one practice game Monday, Sept. 26, 2016 at the Ulrich Varsity Courts. Karchere-Sun went 2-1 at the team's opening weekend at Saint Joseph's to reach the semifinals. (Annie Henry/B&W Staff)

Junior Dylan Karchere-Sun gets ready to serve during a practice point Monday, Sept. 26, 2016 at the Ulrich Varsity Courts. Karchere-Sun went 2-1 in singles play at the team’s opening weekend at Saint Joseph’s to reach the semifinals. (Annie Henry/B&W Staff)

The Lehigh women’s and men’s tennis teams will be hosting the Lehigh Invitational this upcoming weekend.

The event is the second of five the two teams will be taking part in this fall. This weekend will also mark the first of two tournaments that will take place at the Mountain Hawks’ home, Ulrich Varsity Courts. The next will be the Patriot League Kickoff on Oct. 15 and 16.

Even though fall is not their championship season, it is still a big focus for the two teams.

“It’s a good time to communicate the expectations for the team and develop habits that will lead to success,” Wouter Hendrix, the head coach of both the women’s and men’s tennis teams, wrote in an email.

The Mountain Hawks are looking forward to the opportunity and competition the fall tournaments will bring.

Sophomore George Cooper said the team treats the fall season as a long preseason to prepare for the spring. Cooper started as a freshman and was given the team’s Scholar Athlete of the Year Award last season.

“The preseason competition is very important because the atmosphere is so much different (from practice) for a match, and a lot of match play is a big part of developing as a player,” Cooper said. “It helps to get back into the swing of competition and focus on what we are trying to develop in match play.”

Junior Christina Auyeung, a former Patriot League Rookie of the Year and two time first-team All-Patriot League selection, is looking not only to continue her individual success but also help contribute to her teammates’ success this year.

“The team has been concentrating a lot on doubles and looking to consistently get the doubles point in the spring,” Auyeung said. “We’ve also been working on our team culture and really amping up the energy and cheering-on of our team in order to give off a strong team-first vibe to schools that come and play us.”

The Lehigh Invitational will also be a first for three members of the women’s team and one of the men’s. Auyeung said it’ll give the freshmen a sense of what it’ll be like to play matches in the team’s home facility.

The fall may not count in the standings, but it does give teams the ability to show opponents how much the team has grown and also gain the momentum it hopes to bring into the spring.

“I think this is a huge opportunity to showcase the great talent, energy and passion that we have as a team this year,” Auyeung said. “We’ll be playing a lot of great teams, some of which we’ve actually seen the past couple of weeks in our previous tournaments. I know some of us are gunning for a rematch against those teams.”

Cooper said the team will specifically look to perform well against Binghamton and Drexel because it played close matches against them last year. The Mountain Hawks will also look to gain experience against the non-conference opponents they will encounter in the tournament.

Not only will the second tournament of the fall be another opportunity to grow, but it will also be another chance to face rival Lafayette as well.

“Lafayette will also be there so we’ll be looking to keep dominating that matchup as well,” Auyeung said.

The Lehigh Invitational is a two-day event scheduled to take place at the Ulrich Varsity Courts on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2.

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