Saturday, Feb. 1 marked the start of the tennis season with a riveting exhibition match between UMW and Longwood. UMW took two of the three doubles matches, with Joseph Brown and Cole Tecce winning number two, and Priyan Desilva and Andrew Watson winning at number three. Among the singles games, Andrew Watson won number five.
Although UMW lost the match 6-3, the players are optimistic about the upcoming season.
“It gives us a lot to shoot for. Longwood has some very high UTR’s on their team and their number one is nationally ranked, so it’s good to know we can still hang with those guys,” said Brown, a senior and four year veteran of the tennis team.
UTR, or Universal Tennis Rating, is an objective rating index of a player’s skill without regard to gender or age, on a scale of 16 points. The average UTR of Division I NCAA tennis players falls between 12.0 and 15.0. Brown’s UTR is 11.0.
The positive attitude is, in no small part, attributed to the close ties between the players on the small team. “We’re smaller than usual, with only seven guys, so some of the guys may be put out of their comfort zone [this season],” said Moses Hutchison, a junior and three year veteran of the tennis team. On the UTR scale, Hutchison has a score of 11.35.
The average varsity tennis team has 11 players—three singles players and eight doubles players. With a smaller team size comes more work per player, but also a closer bond within the team.
“The most rewarding part about playing for a team is seeing everyone’s hard work paying off winning big matches and enjoying those experiences together,” said Brown.
The team’s spirits were high after their first game of the season. “It’s a tough yet rewarding process,” said Head Coach Todd Helbling. “Our guys gave a very nice effort and I was happy with what I saw. We have some strong players and great potential for the season. We lost the match but did some very good things. Now it’s back to work and trying to get better.”
The team is hopeful that their motivation, drive, close-knit bond within the team and positive attitude will carry the team through another great season.