Drew Eastland ’21 (he/ him), Sports Editor Emeritus and Deen Haleem ‘21 (he/him), staff writer
After a rocky start to the season, things seem to be turning the corner for the Davidson men’s tennis team. In their last five contests the team holds a 3 – 2 winning record,including a resounding 6 – 1 victory over North Carolina Central just last Saturday.
Although the team’s record might not stack up numerically to recent seasons, there is a lot to like about this year’s high points: wins against Charleston College and gritty performances during wins. Douglas Macintosh discussed the positive factors of the season which the record doesn’t reflect.
“Although we’ve been playing some really good tennis, the team has lost a few tough matches this year.” Macintosh emphasized toughness: “I think we’re going to be tougher than usual when we get to the conference tournament in May because of these challenges we’ve had to overcome.”
The lack of a fall season may also explain the team’s slower start in the win column. Typically, tennis teams have a full fall season to prepare for the conference based spring; however, that did not happen this year.
Just like every athletic team, the men’s tennis team has shifted much of their normal protocol to help combat COVID-19. Players described shifts in facetime opportunities with the coaching staff; however, the athletes also emphasized their gratitude for those who have made this unique season possible. Macintosh ‘22 put the season COVID season in perspective.
“Normally, we practice most days as a whole team but starting in the fall we changed to practice in smaller groups of 3 or 4 so that we could socially distance better,” Macintosh recalled. “This has meant that the coaches have to put in more hours but I know all the players really appreciate the extra work that people are putting in so that we can have this opportunity to still play tennis this year.”
COVID continues to leave its imprint on athletics. Sunday’s matchup with Richmond and an April 2nd matchup with Xavier were cancelled due to coronavirus outbreaks.
First year athletes have been a bright spot for the team this year. Getting new athletes up to speed and acquainted with the program is yet another challenge posed by COVID-19; however, players described a method used to combat the inexperience gap.
“We [make] sure that at least one of the seniors gets to practice with one of the freshmen every day,” Macintosh explained. “[Our First-years have] done so well as the new guys on our team and they are three of the hardest workers and most energetic guys on our team.”
Indeed, first-years are making significant contributions. According to the Davidson athletic website, Mach Kachkarov played first singles – traditionally the position allotted to a team’s best player- in the match against North Carolina Central.
The team is “taking each day and match one at a time,” according to Macintosh. The end goal is to build momentum throughout the rest of the regular season to hit peak form during the conference championship on April, 28th.