By Emily Coughlin
The St. Bonaventure University men’s and women’s tennis teams will be travelling to Florida for the Atlantic 10 Championships, which they have been preparing for all season, the team said.
The team uses every practice and every match to better its weaknesses and improve its strengths, said head coach Michael Bates.
“Preparing for a match starts in practice where we practice like we are going to play,” said Bates.
Starting the season in the fall, the Bonnies build up their physical strength, then work on their skills on the court, said Blanco.
“The fall season is more about training and working on our weaknesses to prepare for the Spring Season,” said junior Victor Blanco.
In order to be physically and mentally prepared for A10s, the team conditions and trains on the court to build its skills. A lot of time goes into strength and stamina to build confidence in the players’ abilities, which increases their mentality in the game, said Bates.
Blanco said that he and the team enjoy the mix between strength conditioning and skill practice because it benefits them greatly while playing a match.
“I like to have a balance in between fitness and on-court practice,” said Blanco.
Conditioning is vital to the mental side of tennis because if the players are not physically fit, they will not have the self-assurance to beat their opponent and feel ready for their match, said freshman John Rutkowski.
“If the players are not in physical shape, then their whole game will be off and they will break down mentally and swing too early, or not anticipate the ball in time,” said Bates.
The spring season is very helpful to prepare for A10s because the teams play many opponents with different abilities, which helps the Bonnies work on a variety of skills to be ready for anything, said Blanco.
“I really enjoy the spring season because we play a lot of different teams with different competitive aspects,” said Blanco.
After each of their matches, the team discusses what they need to work on to be better and to have a stronger team dynamic, said Patwardhan.
“We discuss what we have to improve on as a team rather than individual things, because this is a team sport,” said Patwardhan.
Identifying the team’s disadvantages is very important for the championship tournament because they are able to fix the problems they had to be fully prepared for difficult competition, said Bates.
Since the teams have played other A10 teams previously, they have a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents, said Rutkowski.
Bates knows the Bonnies opponents’ skills and offers advice to all the players on how best to beat them, which will be extremely helpful for A10s, said Rutkowski.
“Coach has a lot of experience in the A10 conference. Knowing the other teams well has definitely helped calm my nerves for the championship,” said Rutkowski.
The team is excited, ready for A10s and will play their hardest, said Rutkowski.
“No matter what the outcome of A10s is, we will still be proud of our accomplishments and improvements from this season,” said Rutkowski.
Bates said that the most important part of A10s is to be supportive of all their teammates.
“We focus on the positives whether it’s win or lose,” said Bates.
The men’s and women’s tennis teams will have their first games of the A10 tournament on Wednesday, April 26 in Lake Nona, Florida; the times have not been determined yet.