The Lehigh men’s tennis team has fared well during the start of the fall season, as they look to build on their winning spring season.
The Mountain Hawks play four preseason tournaments in the fall as part of their offseason training for the regular season in the spring.
The matches in September and October set the tone for their goals and expectations as they progress towards their first official match in January.
“It’s nice to get that offseason practice in that we haven’t necessarily been able to for a while,” senior Zack Elliott said.“It is always just fun to be out there competing with the guys early on in the year.”
The team has played in tournaments for three consecutive weekends.
In their first tournament, Elliott joined freshman Marc Blekhman to win the blue draw of the bracket, while sophomore Jordan Paul and junior Michael Bukhalo won the white draw of the bracket.
“I think the fall season, especially for my teammates, has gone really well,” junior Matt Kleiman said. “We won the Villanova Invitational and we are all playing well.”
At the Lehigh Invitational, the Mountain Hawks continued their success, going 6-5 in doubles action and 14-10 in singles. Blekhman and senior Gary Fishkin were undefeated in singles play, both going 3-0.
At the St. Joseph’s Invitational, junior Jeremy Learner won the number four singles flight, going 5-0, including winning the first four matches in straight sets.
In the finals, Learner won in a super tiebreaker to 10 points after splitting the first two sets.
Coach Wouter Hendrix said the fall season consists of three phases.
The first phase is the training phase, focused mostly on building up tennis stamina without an emphasis on strength and conditioning.
In the second phase, the team shifts its focus to the competition in tournaments for three straight weekends.
The third phase consists mostly of strength and conditioning.
“Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the way we competed,” Hendrix said. “I think there’s a lot of room for improvement in a lot of different areas, and I think we have a lot of potential. I also think we have a lot of work to do to maximize that potential.”
When the fall season ends, the team will start the third phase of offseason training, which includes eight hours of training per week.
The team’s fall season concludes on Oct.19 at the ITA Regionals in Philadelphia, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Once the student-athletes head home for winter break, it becomes more challenging for the coaches to manage and oversee the offseason training regimen.
In order for them to stay fresh during the offseason without being on campus, the team is given rigorous workout schedules.
“The accountability level in the offseason (with regard to) fitness, strength, conditioning and playing enough tennis over winter break is going to determine how we start off our season,” Hendrix said.
Seeing success in all three fall tournaments so far has set high expectations for the regular season.
Hendrix said the team’s goals include a winning season, finishing in the top three in the Patriot League and placing as high as they can in the end-of-season tournament.