By Sean Mickey
Although the St. Bonaventure men’s tennis team did not leave victorious, fervent doubles and a strong effort by the young team gave them some solace after their performance at the Army Invitational.
This past weekend, the Brown and White traveled to West Point, New York, for the Army Invite. There, they competed against Drexel University, Marist College and Army.
“Right now, we have a lot of new guys, and we’re trying to figure out new combinations for doubles, who can play and who needs to play where. I think we did okay,” said coach Michael Bates. “There’s stuff to work on, which is what we want to come out of the fall season figuring out. Things like what areas we need to improve on and try to tackle those.”
At Army, the Bonnies were led by junior Indra Patwardhan and sophomore Guillermo Garcia. The doubles team of Patwardhan and Garcia are rolling with a 3-1 record.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the level the level that [Patwardhan and Garcia] can get to,” said Bates. “I think we’ve worked on what some of their weaknesses are and attempted to isolate them and try to improve them. It’s trying to put it all together and have a good spring.”
Sophomore John Rutkowski teamed up with Garcia last season and talked about playing doubles with a different partner.
“This tournament, I teamed up with [junior Blake McGuirt] for the first time which gave a different perspective,” Rutkowski said. “We, overall, had a very clean set, breaking once and holding through. Blake has really good volleys which gave us a clear advantage, especially on my serve.”
Starting this Saturday, Oct. 7, the Brown and White will host the St. Bonaventure Fall Classic. There, Bates anticipates spreading match play so that the underclassmen can gain experience.
“I want some of the other guys to play some matches, some of our guys that didn’t get to play this past weekend and really try to get everybody in,” said Bates. “Having something at home is kind of nice too because it seems like we’re always on the road in the fall. So, to have something at home is nice and hopefully the weather helps us out. I think getting some match play is the most important thing.”
With his young team, Coach Bates doesn’t anticipate changing his coaching style, but rather adapting to meet the team’s needs.
“My coaching style has changed some; obviously the players have changed. I think things are different nowadays,” said Bates. “You have to adapt a little bit, you can’t stay the same. I’ve changed how we look at things and how we tackle things and what we’re trying to do each day.”
After the fall tennis season, which is comprised mostly of invitationals, the Bonnies will participate in head-to-head matches in the spring. At the conclusion of the spring season, St. Bonaventure will compete at the Atlantic 10 Championships in Lake Nona, Florida.
“I’m looking forward to A10s, it’s what we shoot for every year,” said Bates. “Doing well at A10s is what our goal is, and we try to build towards that, and it’s what we do every year.”
In previous seasons, the Bonnies haven’t gotten off to a fast start in early matches at the A10 Championships. Bates believes that with continued development, the Brown and White can reverse that trend.
“At A10s, we want to do well in our first-round matches. We want to do well there. The guys from last year saw what is was like, so they know what it’s like to play the second, third and fourth day,” said Bates. “We’re aiming to get over the first hurdle and tackle the next day.”