MTEN Hoping for Fast Start to Points, 2018
Jan. 17, 2018
SPOKANE, Wash.--Back to the basics. That's where Gonzaga's men's tennis team will go for the 2018 season.
"We're focusing on the fundamentals," said head coach Peter MacDonald of the Bulldogs' approach this year. "We're trying to get really good at starting points, and we're trying to just get faster and more efficient on the court with our movement. If you can't start a point, you can't even play the rally game. It's really easy to get lost sometimes and to get away from the fundamentals. If you have those things working for you, you can surprise yourself."
This approach won't be unfamiliar for the Zags after working on the same things throughout the fall. They focused on the beginning of points - the service and return games on both first and second serves - during the fall tournament season, to great effect. MacDonald is pleased with the progression everyone took throughout the fall.
"Even if they didn't necessarily win some of their matches, the guys were all playing well," he said. "They were all having great matches, and that was really rewarding to see from a coaching standpoint. And we want to keep going, we're trying to stay focused. Even though they were returning well in the fall, our goal will be to continue that in the spring. Even though we got better at serving in the fall, it will be important that we're back on top of those things and we keep improving."
The Zags certainly kept improving during the fall season with numerous highlights coming in the final two tournaments. The biggest storyline was the doubles play of Ruadhan O'Sullivan and Sam Feit. The duo went 9-4 to begin their second year playing together, reaching the semifinals of the ITA Northwest Regionals Oct. 19-20 for the first time in program history. O'Sullivan and Feit also reached the final of the season-ending Bulldog Classic, a match won by fellow Zags Kyle Everly and Vincent Rettke for the sophomores' first-ever bracket title.
In singles play, O'Sullivan and Feit squared off against each other in the final of Bulldog Classic's top bracket with O'Sullivan winning in two sets. Also, freshman Matthew Perkins reached the B Singles semifinal round in his first action inside The Stevens Center.
Overall, O'Sullivan led the team with a 13-3 record in the fall, also reaching the semifinal of the Dar Walters Fall Classic earlier in October. Both Feit and Rettke went 10-4; Feit reached the Round of 16 at the Northwest Regionals and Rettke advanced to quarterfinals in two tournaments. Junior Emilio Moreno also posted a winning fall record at 9-6, and Everly and Perkins were both one win shy of .500.
This spring, the Zags return a lot of dual experience as six payers played in at least 10 duals last season. O'Sullivan, Feit, and Rettke played in all 19 dual matches, and Everly was two shy at 17. Then-freshman Simón Homedes Dualde saw action in 14, and Moreno 10. They've been bolstered by sophomore transfer Bryan Husin as well as freshmen Perkins and Hunter Egger, the latter of which joined the team over the recent Winter Break.
During the dual season, the Bulldogs will face a steady slate of opponents. Four foes on the schedule reached the NCAA Tournament last season, including Idaho, Oregon, UC Santa Barbara, and San Diego. Three of those contests will take place away from Spokane, and the trio of Oregon, UC Santa Barbara, and San Diego all finished last season ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Top 50 poll.
The Bulldogs also have 10 duals inside The Stevens Center. The first six matches of the new year take place at home, and the season opens Jan. 20 when Gonzaga hosts Whitman and Whitworth in a split doubleheader. The day starts at 10:00 a.m. with a dual against Whitman, the reigning Northwest Conference champions. The Blues, a Division III team from Walla Walla, Wash., return 13 players from last year's title team, including No. 1 singles player and 2017 Division III Singles Tournament participant Zach Hewlin.
At 3:00 p.m., Whitworth will make the cross-town trip for a showdown inside The Stevens Center. The Pirates return four players from a team that went 6-11 and finished sixth in the NWC, including last season's overall singles wins leader, Jake Bethard.
Live stats and video for those matches and every home match this season may be found at www.GoZags.com.
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