Men’s tennis team aims for improvement


Abigail Bekele

Guilford College men’s tennis first-year Kane Mills practices on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. //Photo by Abigail Bekele/The Guilfordian

Last spring, Guilford’s men’s tennis team competed in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship final for the first time in program history. They fell to Washington and Lee, 5-0, in the finals matchup, which capped off the Quakers’ best season since 1996.

This year, all Quakers are hitting their strides starting off the fall season, posting stellar performances in an exhibition match against Methodist followed by a  a 7-2 win at home over Montreat College.

Though it is only the fall semester, many players on the team have high hopes for the spring season, when the Quakers begin playing consistent matches and conference opponents. Sophomore captain and number one singles player Tate Godwin commented on the upcoming season and changes in the offseason. He referred to the Quakers’ showing at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association South Region Division III Championship, from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, at Berry College in Georgia.

“I expect(ed) everyone to compete hard at the ITAs last weekend, and after that, we will be done with tournaments and matches for a while,” said Godwin. “So following that, it’s just preparing for the regular spring season. Just making sure we are ready to go when it starts in February.

He also touched on the team’s focus on conditioning with a thin roster.

“We have started to do more physical conditioning,” said Godwin. “Last year, and especially during the fall when we play tournaments, we normally play at least two, maybe three or four matches a day. So by the time you are in your third match, everyone is pretty much tired. At that point, it is like an endurance contest, so we want to be in shape so we are able to compete through that third match of the day.”

First-year Kane Mills described his experience with the team so far.

“Most of the players and first-years are used to the routine. The chemistry is really good and the doubles teams really fit together.”

Team chemistry is always important, and even more so this year. Two top players from last season players, Mesa Martorell and Jon-Anthony Thomas, transferred out of Guilford.

“Well I got four first-years, and two of them are real good,” said head coach David McCain. “One of them is playing number two, and the other is playing four.”

The team has gelled together well. Each person stepping up and accepting new roles.The players and coaches were all optimistic about the ITAs this year.

“(I wanted to) go as far as I can with my doubles partner, Tate Godwin.” said sophomore Kai Glass. Going into the tournament, McCain made sure the team was up for the challenge by emphasizing the importance of winning.

“We had a tough first round, playing Emory University, the number one team in the country,” said McCain. “It will be tough if we can get through the first round. Some of the guys can do really well. The goal is to win as many matches as we possibly can. Our real goal is if one of our top players can do really, really well, they have the potential chance to go to Nationals. That’s the real goal.”

Godwin touched on the level of competition at the ITAs. “The main thing is no one has an easy draw. Every team there is good. It’s about playing to win. Against tough competition like that, you can’t be apprehensive. Taking what we have been working on in practice and just applying it and just competing. I’m not setting goals about what round I want to get to. I just want to compete and play hard and that is all I can ask at this point.”

This year, the team competed from September 29 to October 1 in doubles and singles matches. Singles wins in the tournament came from sophomore Tate Godwin (6-2, 6-2), first-year Elijah Gregory (6-0, 6-0) and senior Chasen Chacon (6-2, 6-2). The Quakers also earned two doubles victories at the ITAs. First-year duo Elijah Gregory and Mason Robb won 9-7. Senior duo Graham Pearson and Chasen Chacon won 8-3. The team will now look ahead to the main spring season where their first match will be away against conference-rival Lynchburg College Saturday, Feb. 24.