For the first time in the spring season, the Student Pavilion will be used to host a tennis match, as the men’s team takes on Delaware on Friday, March 22, at 2 p.m.
Until now, home matches have been played indoors at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education Center in Manayunk. Matches in the early part of the season need to be played indoors due to the weather, and there are no on-campus indoor courts.
“I really hate the cold weather and I love the warm weather,” freshman Minami Okajima said. “I’m really excited.”[blockquote who=”Steve Mauro” what=”coach”]Doubles points are still pretty quick. I see a difference more in the singles play.[/blockquote]
The women’s team (5-8, 2-3 Atlantic 10 Conference) has five straight away matches, and then closes out the season with four outdoor Pavilion matches before the women’s A-10 championships in Charlottesville, Va., from April 18 to 21. The men’s team (2-9, 1-3 A-10) has eight matches left before the men’s A-10 Championships in Mason, Ohio, from April 25 to 28. Seven of those are home matches at the Pavilion.
“Our team is actually suited pretty well to play outside, because we’re actually in very good shape, and we can keep balls in play,” coach Steve Mauro said. “I think it’s going to help us, so I’m looking forward to playing outside.”
Legacy is a 15 to 20 minute drive from Main Campus. There are multiple bus routes that get to Legacy, but none go there directly from campus. The most direct way to get there is via the Norristown regional rail line, with an $8 round trip fare and a half-mile walk from the Wissahickon train station.
“I am excited to play on campus, because there will be many people who are coming,” freshman Nicolas Paulus said. “Now it is a little bit difficult because it’s so far away from campus. Twenty minutes is hard for students to come here when they have no cars.”
The change in courts requires the players to change strategies.
“The game is different,” Paulus said. “Outdoor courts are usually much slower. You need to be more patient to win the point. A player who can adapt, it’s going to be easier for him. A player that can make better shots will adapt better.”
Factors that cannot be controlled outside, such as wind and humidity, affect the speed of shots. Indoor facilities, such as Legacy, don’t have to worry about those conditions.
“It’s a lot more difficult to hit winning shots [outside],” Mauro said. “The ball travels slower through the wind and the elements. The big hard shots that you hit are going to come back to you that would normally be a winner.”
Both Okajima and Paulus said they will have to hit more shots with spin than they would indoors.
“I will be hitting much more with spin, because the wind is crazy,” Okajima said. “I will focus more on consistency, rather than risking all the shots.”
“You have to play more spin,” Paulus said. “The balls come faster down on the court.”
The difference will be more pronounced in singles than it will be in doubles, Mauro and players said.
“It affects singles more than it affects doubles,” Mauro said. “Doubles points are still pretty quick. I see a difference more in the singles play.”
“In doubles the difference is not that huge,” Paulus said. “The ball doesn’t bounce that often.”
Mauro specifically cited four of the eight players on the team as players that would benefit from the switch.
“It’s going to help [freshman] Santiago [Canete],” Mauro said. “In Spain, they don’t play indoors at all. It’s gonna help [sophomore] Hernan [Vasconez]. In Ecuador he played all outdoor tennis. [Senior] Kacper [Rams] is actually very fit and can keep a lot of balls in play.”
Ultimately, the team expressed excitement to play at the Pavilion, including the coach.
“I can’t wait to play on campus,” Mauro said. “Hopefully we’ll get some more fan support. It’s really beneficial to us. Even though we practice [at Legacy], I don’t feel like it’s our home. To be playing on campus, I think it’s great and it’s more like a college atmosphere.”
Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EvanCross.