The men’s tennis team cannot seem to shake the injury bug this season. The Owls, who entered the season with high expectations following a successful 2006 season, were seriously hurt by the compounding amount of bumps and bruises that they ultimately suffered.
The team hobbled into last weekend’s Atlantic Ten Conference tournament in Monroeville, Pa., looking to make a splash but came up a little short of its goal. A 4-3 loss Thursday to Saint Louis ended the Owls’ hopes of an A-10 title. The next day, the Owls (9-13) defeated Philadelphia rival La Salle, 6-0, in a consolation match to end the year on a positive note.
“Toward the end of the year, we were really
banged up,” coach Steve Mauro said. “We just never really had a chance to heal once the season started.”
Two top players spent a majority of the season injured. The Owls’ No. 1 player, sophomore Eduardo Saavedra, but was posted a 6-5 individual record, was hampered with both wrist and ankle injuries. Junior Philip Gegenheimer, who went 9-9, sat out most of the year with a shoulder injury. It was a tough ending for a team that was poised to breakout this year, Mauro said.
“We were forced to work a little harder with these guys injured,” Mauro said. “In the end it all caught up to us.”
The season started promisingly, as the Owls had two three-match winning streaks. But the Owls lost six of their last seven matches, with a win against La Salle in their season finale ultimately saving them from ending the year on a seven-game slide.
Though Saavedra was still dealing with his injuries at the A-10 tournament, Mauro credited Saavedra with being a player who had stepped up toward the end. Saavedra won each of his matches at the tournament.
“He really impressed us and played well,” Mauro said.
With the season ending short of an A-10 Championship, that does not mean it is not too early to speculate about next year. The Owls will have to rebound from the departure of their lone senior Daniel Davis, but will be adding at least three top recruits to an already heavy returning class.
“We have two recruits from Atlanta coming
and a top player from Chicago coming for next season,” Mauro said. “We also will have a transfer player coming to us from Lees McRae College in North Carolina.”
Injuries or not, the losing will be all but forgotten and the coaches and players will work hard in the off-season to make sure next season is a memorable one.
Kenny Walter can be reached at email@example.com.