The VSU men’s tennis is looking to stay on top.
As the tennis season starts, the Blazers expect to keep their conference dominance. They won three conference championships in the past four years and are ranked no. 19 in the country in the preseason.
Leadership last year was under All-Americans Jordi Mas and Xavier Pinedas. This year, it falls on senior Yohan Nguyen and junior Florian Simbozel.
Robert Cizek is the other returning member of the Blazers roster.
Mas and Pinedas’ impact on the team was important for those who came after them. The encouragement they fostered is something head coach John Hansen revered.
“They had a tremendous impact on our team,” said Hansen. “Both in their competitive spirit and their leadership of the younger guys. They made great examples.”
Hansen spoke highly of Nguyen and Simbozel, who were regional champions in the doubles tournament last year and competed in the national tournament. Nguyen was also runner up to the region singles championship.
Although the departing of seniors brings questions of a drop offof talent and leadership on the roster, the increased depth indicates to Hansen that lowered skill will not be the case this year.
“We got a lot of young guys on the team…but we won’t miss a beat,” said Hansen.
The Blazers finished last season with a 16-4 record, led by anundefeated conference slate, going 10-0. In the last seven years, the Blazers have been consistently dominant. They have five winning seasons during this time, including a 2011 national championship. 2018 was their best season since that date.
Although the team lost junior Axel Holm, they kept sophomore Robert Cizek and gained freshman Edward Etty and Luca Mack. They have also welcomed junior Adam Kalivoda who’stransferred from South Carolina State.
Although the Blazers lost their first match of the season to sixth-ranked Lander Sunday, it was by no blowout, losing 3-4. They now look ahead in the season to Tuesday, when they play Shorter at 2 p.m.
Story written by Ben Strickland, staff writer. Photo courtesy of VSU Athletics.