BY MARY ANGELA BENTHAL
Hope for a strong season has turned into a reality for Franciscan University of Steubenville’s men’s tennis team who is not only battling a tough schedule but a grueling winter schedule.
Head Coach Jeremy Ellis has been working hard to see the men’s progress this season, despite falling short of their goals in the fall. With the pressure on and the goal set high, the team has responded with dedication to improvement.
“All the players have stepped up to the plate. We haven’t stayed with a consistent lineup for the first few matches, which caused others to step up,” Ellis said. “This has been good. Not only to allow others the chance to play, but it gives the guys a little more pressure as they play higher in the lineup. Paul Jarzynka and Brian Robau will be a doubles team to watch. This I believe will be their year. John Shultis, being our only senior, plans on going out with a bang and our freshman Zack Quiza remains consistently good.”
Ellis is happy with the outcome he’s seen so far as the team rises to the challenge and takes this season with skill and improvement. “So far my expectations have been met. We are jelling together as a team,” he said. “Our doubles is progressing in the right direction, and coming off our Florida trip, our consistency and endurance is ever increasing.”
Despite this positive season, the team faces the challenging set back of not being able to play at home for the time being. This has greatly impacted the amount of playing time the men can get outside of games.
“The only area in which my expectation is not met is our inability to play outside. This hurts our practice time,” Ellis said.
As the season moves forward the importance of getting as much practice time as possible increases.
“Driving 45 minutes away to get practice in can be stifling. We need to be on the court hitting tennis balls as much as possible with conference drawing near,” Ellis said, “My hope for the rest of the season is simply that we have better weather and the team enjoys playing good tennis.”
Ellis has set the bar high with goals for the conference and rest of the season, but has strong confidence that Baron Tennis can accomplish their goals this year.
“My goal for the rest of the season is to go undefeated in conference and win the conference tournament,” he said. “We definitely have the team to do this.”