The Crimson Tide men’s tennis team will travel to Clemson Friday, Feb. 15 to play the Tigers. Alabama, fresh off a loss against Samford, hopes to mentally focus on itself rather than the competition.
The Tide (7-2) previously leaned on top players to help get the win, but learned after losing that everyone needs to step up in order to win.
“We’ve learned a few things,” coach George Husack said. “Number one, we have to out-compete our opponent. Number two, we need everyone on the team to step forward. We’ve leaned a lot on the top three guys, and it’s time for the rest of the team to pick up the pace. And number three, we learned that it’s just a match; we’re not going to harp on it. It is history, and we’re going to move forward.”
With that in mind, Husack said he hopes the week off has helped his team prepare mentally because nothing changes in the course of a week.
“[I tell them] to get back to work,” Husack said. “We have 20-plus matches in the year, and nothing changes from week to week. At times there are lapses in concentration but we have to focus on staying focused. There’s no worry and no fear.”
As of now, only two players are undefeated in singles. Junior Danill Proskura and senior Jarryd Bartha have managed to win every singles match of the season. Proskura said that everybody is ready to go and play Clemson even though it is an away match.
“It’s always difficult to play away,” Proskura said. “It’s different than playing at home. You don’t have your home support. They have more pressure because they are playing at [their] home, so it’s possibly easier for us.”
Since Alabama has had over a week to practice and prepare, the players are more focused on what they need to improve on in order to win instead of focusing in on the other team.
“As a team, [we] need to be solid,” Proskura said. “We have missed some balls in the past week, but we have been working on being solid on the court overall. For myself, I’m working on being more aggressive. I feel like I am playing really well right now, but I have to keep working harder.”
Comparing the two teams, Husacksaid he believes this is an even matchup. Clemson (6-1) has no players with a perfect singles season, so the Tide has a small advantage over the Tigers.
“We’re pretty evenly matched,” Husack said. “I think we are going to be tested because we are on the road, but we seem to elevate our focus and our play when we are on the road. Anything could happen, but I feel good about it.”
As Alabama prepares for its next match, Proskura is preparing his team to take the match seriously.
“It’s not about tennis right now,” Proskura said. “It’s really mental. When we play well, we play well, but we have to be take every match seriously. We have to start from the first point. We have to have a good start in the doubles and get ahead, and then win in singles.”
Leading in today’s Crimson White: