The fall season is approaching quickly for Arkansas tennis.
Unlike the spring season, the fall tennis season allows players to compete individually. Players still compete for their schools, but teams do not place based on overall match results. This gives athletes the opportunity to focus and improve on specific aspects of their game in order to be refined and prepared for the competitive atmosphere in the spring.
The men’s squad, under coach Andy Jackson, has made conditioning a key aspect to this offseason’s regimen.
Sophomore Josh Howard-Tripp feels that this off-court training will be a vital aspect to success later in the season, he said.
“I think, for the moment, the coaching staff is pushing us a lot harder this fall,” Howard-Tripp said. “We are doing a lot more running and sprints, and I also feel that we have a more experienced team this year, so everyone has a very good idea of what to expect.”
The fall season has many benefits in its scheduling that are meant to allow athletes to better prepare themselves for the spring.
“The individual season definitely differs from the spring,” Howard-Tripp said, “Mainly because the calendar isn’t jam packed with matches every weekend. It gives the team a better chance to prepare and train for the spring period with more gym and off-court training.”
For the more experienced players on the team, September through November has become an enjoyable stretch for players to ease back into the intense environment of NCAA Division I tennis. Senior Branch Terrell recognizes the team needs a productive fall season to be competitive in the spring, he said.
“Fall is fun,” Terrell said. “It gives Coach [Jackson] an idea of our level going into the important part of the year. The spring is definitely what counts and what we play for, not to say that the fall isn’t important. The preparation in the fall is crucial, but the results matter most in the spring.”
The chance to focus on oneself and block out all other distractions in the fall is something that sophomore Alex Reco does not take for granted, he said.
“During the spring we try to play well as a team to win matches,” Reco said, “but during the fall, the goal is more about trying to gain some confidence by playing individual matches to get ready for the spring season.”
Last season was a campaign filled with ups and downs for the men’s tennis team. The squad played well in Fayetteville in the spring, boasting a 10-3 home record.
Singles play in particular was also a strong suit for the men. As a team, the men went 113-104 in singles. Doubles, however, were not as auspicious for the Razorbacks. The men tallied a 29-51 record in doubles play. The team struggled against the top squads in the country, too, going just 1-7 against nationally ranked teams.
In order for Arkansas to compete in a tough Southeastern Conference, the fall season must be a beneficial one for the Razorbacks.
“Even though [the fall] is our individual season, it is our preseason as well,” senior Oscar Mesquida said. “Individual season is a preparation for the team season. It is very important to get confidence and see at what level I am at compared with the other players in the nation.”