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Single-player sport creates strong team dynamics

Makayla+McLaurin++practices+for+her+team%27s+next+tennis+match%0Awhich+will+take+place+at+Methodist+University+on+February+25.%2C+2017.
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Single-player sport creates strong team dynamics

Makayla McLaurin  practices for her team's next tennis match
which will take place at Methodist University on February 25., 2017.

Makayla McLaurin practices for her team's next tennis match which will take place at Methodist University on February 25., 2017.

Ava Nadel/Guilfordian

Makayla McLaurin practices for her team's next tennis match which will take place at Methodist University on February 25., 2017.

Ava Nadel/Guilfordian

Ava Nadel/Guilfordian

Makayla McLaurin practices for her team's next tennis match which will take place at Methodist University on February 25., 2017.

For a sport that is a mostly about individual matches, the relationships built by the tennis teams at Guilford College are exceptionally strong.

The strength of these relationships show not only in teammates words, but in their early performance as well. Both teams played their first match of the season against Greensboro College on Feb. 19, and both teams won an impressive 9-0.

Even before these striking wins, coaches and teammates alike spoke toward the community that they felt was conducive to victory.

“Everybody is very supportive of each other,” said assistant women’s tennis coach Kim Kleimeier. “They get along really well. They work really hard, and they feed off of others’ successes, which is so important.

“When one person does well, it pushes the other person to want to do well.”

For many of the tennis players, the pushing of each other to improve and do better has been instrumental to their growth, especially for current seniors, some of whom have been playing since their first year at Guilford. The growth seems obvious, given that the men’s tennis team ranked third in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s annual preseason poll.

“A lot of us have been together for multiple years now, and it seems like we’ve been getting better and better each year,” said senior co-captain of the Men’ team Levi Bruff. “This is our best year, being preseason ranked No. 3, to really do well.”

The members of the men’s team have high hopes for themselves, as do their coaches. There are high hopes for Bruff and junior Mesa Martorell in particular, both having earned All-ODAC tennis honors last year. In terms of both cohesiveness and ability, there is the expectation to do well among everyone.

“I want them to finish at least in the top four, but I think they can do better than that,” said head coach David McCain. “The matches we lost last year were a ton of really close matches, so the men last year just by a few points could have finished third.”

For the women’s team, there is a similar desire for success. One issue is that the women’s team simply does not have as many players on the roster as the men’s. This can be a problem, especially in cases of injury or illness.

“We’re still lacking in numbers,” said sophomore Katie Claggett. “I wish we had a couple more players on our team, but I think we are close-knit and we are all excited to encourage each other throughout the season.”

The women’s tennis team was preseason ranked No. 10, but that does not mean that they should be underestimated compared to the Men’s team. Both teams have formed strong bonds with each other which can only translate to stronger play, as was seen in the matches against Greensboro.

Among many of the players, it also seems to be less about winning all the matches they go into, and more about further building their small community.

“I’d say our main goal is to be as successful as we can, both on and off the court, and to really understand that our team is our safety net,” said senior captain Nora Prokosch.

Both teams will have their successes on the court further tested in their upcoming games. The next men’s and women’s tennis matches will take place at Methodist University in Fayetteville on Feb. 25.

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