Post-Katrina tennis highlights team, individual success

Matt Schroeder, Contributing Reporter

Men’s tennis has been riding a wave of success ever since current head coach Mark Booras restarted the program only a few years after Hurricane Katrina. 

Last year was the strongest season post-Katrina, with not only team success, but incredible individual success. The team went 16-9 overall, 2-2 in conference play and finished the season ranked 31st, although it had made it to as high as 21st during the course of the season.

Dominik Koepfer, who graduated in May, had an accomplished season. He had a third-place ranking going into singles play in the NCAA tournament and was first in the country for 15 straight weeks. He was also a 2016 NCAA All-American, and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association named him the National Men’s Tennis Senior Player of the Year. His 103 career singles wins stand as the second-most in Tulane’s program history.

The program has been continuously improving. Three years ago, in the 2012-13 season, the team went 12-8 overall and 3-2 in conference play and was 69th in the end-of-season rankings. The program came a long way from Booras’ first season seven years ago, in which the team went 3-17 overall and 0-4 in conference play and finished the season unranked. 

The team isn’t looking back, even with the loss of Koepfer.

“There’s a new sense of energy,” senior Sebastian Rey said. “We had a great year last year, and we want to take it a step further. This year, we have a better team, and we believe that we can go that one step further.”

Four freshmen joined the team this fall, with one more slated to join in the spring.

“This is the best recruiting class as a whole we’ve had since we’ve been back,” Booras said.

The class has five “blue chip” recruits, including Chase Schupp, who was ranked first in Louisiana as a senior in high school and Jonathan Star, a five-star recruit who ranks 46th nationally.

Booras is looking forward to the depth that the highly-touted freshmen class will add.

“It’s going to be really tough to see who’s playing in the lineup this year because of the depth that we’re going to have,” Booras said. “The difference this year is we have depth all the way from number one to number 10.”

Booras will train the team hard to prepare for the spring season, but he also recognizes the importance of the mental game.

“One of the biggest things that goes wrong is people aren’t managing themselves properly,” Booras said. “… If you’re focused on the outcome, you’re not going to be able to execute the process. So you have to focus on the process.”

The team has announced some lofty goals this season, including acquiring a top 16 national ranking, making the sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and winning the conference championship. If the team continues the incredible growth it has experienced and continues to trust the process, Booras will again lead the team to new heights.