Men’s tennis surges toward AAC Championships


Susan Fanelli, Staff Reporter

After one of its strongest seasons yet, Tulane men’s tennis is set to keep things rolling at the American Athletic Conference Championships this weekend.

“We really gelled as a team this year, having everybody back [from] last year, and adding a couple of players to the team has allowed us to bring some different experience as well as depth to our program,” head coach Mark Booras said. “I think that’s why we’re seeing a little more success this year. People are playing with a different kind of confidence.”

The nine athletes on the men’s tennis team battled through the year to earn a 14-7 record (2-2 American Athletic Conference), one of the team’s best in recent memory. The Wave ranked in the top 30 for the first time in a decade, reaching as high as No. 21, and played several of the country’s top teams.

“There’s still a lot of opportunities left,” senior Dominik Koepfer said. “We’re ranked top 30 and we’re going to our first NCAAs for a couple of years. It’s been a great season so far. We took some close losses but we learned a lot from it.”

Tulane faced an increasingly difficult schedule this season. Of the team’s seven losses, most have been to top-ranked schools such as No. 9 Texas Tech and No. 8 Southern California.

“All of our losses have been to teams in the top 25 or top 30, and they’ve all been basically by … a couple of points here and there,” Booras said. “One of the challenges for us this year is that we’ve had the hardest schedule we’ve had in 20 years. We had about 15 teams inside the top 60 in the nation that we play, so there’s no free weekends for us.”

Along with a revitalized team, Tulane boasts the nation’s No. 1 player: Koepfer, from Lohmar, Germany, who recently got his 100th singles win of his career at Rice.

“I never expected to win so many matches before I came here,” Koepfer said. “My first tournament, I couldn’t win the match at Rice, and from there on, it kept on going up.”

Both Koepfer and freshman Tyler Schick emphasize the camaraderie of the team this year, stating that the closeness of the players was a large reason for the team’s success. From team meals to community service, the team spends a lot of time together.

“We eat together, we do a lot of team activities,” Schick said. “We’re really close to each other. I’ve known the seniors for only a couple of months now, but I feel like they’re a part of my family and I think that’s why we’re doing so well this year: It’s because we’re all so close.”

Booras, now in his seventh year as head coach, stressed the importance of the team dynamics.

“We really promote that idea of a family,” Booras said. “Whatever they’re doing, they try to do it together because they know that when we’re on the court on Friday, they’re going to be about 20 feet away from a guy who’s fighting the battle with them.”

No. 4 seed Tulane men’s tennis begins its run in the AAC championship at noon Friday in Memphis, Tennessee. Looking for redemption after last year’s heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Tulsa, the Wave will start off play against No. 5 seed Memphis (14-9).

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