Starting off their season with four straight losses, the Cosumnes River College men’s tennis team is just looking to play their best.
The last few seasons haven’t been kind to them, with their 2014 season ending at 2-9. While adjusting to a new coach and a small team, the men are still working out the kinks of their 2015 season.
Daniel Gonzales, a sophomore on the team, said that the team is trying to make a name for themselves this year.
“This season I think that we are more focused, I think that we are doing specifics and trying to figure out how to really not just try to win, but become a team,” Gonzales said. “We’re really trying to represent CRC when we go to different places and make a name.”
Sophomore player Bryan Leung said that the biggest change this season from their last is their new coach.
“This season we actually have a proactive coach and he seems to want to stay for the long term and try to improve the program instead of just coming one year and then quitting the next,” Leung said.
Matthew Emmett is that new head coach. Emmett just moved to the area in January from England and only had a few weeks to prepare with the team before their season began.
Emmett said that he is trying to change the culture of tennis at CRC.
“In time my goal is to build a very successful program, but over the last three years no coach has gone out and recruited players and put in the work,” Emmett said.
Gonzales said that he thinks that the season is going well overall, despite their lack of wins.
“I think we’re doing well in the aspect that we’re able to become better players, I think better so than last year,” Gonzales said.
Emmett said that the players improving is success in his eyes.
“What I try and do is reframe what success is,” Emmett said. “Success to some people is winning and losing, but my version of success is how much the individual is improving.”
One of the issues facing the team and contributing to their losses is the fact that they only have five active players, with an additional player redshirting for the season.
“You need six players minimum to play a match because you play six singles and three doubles so every time we go to a match we have to forfeit one doubles and two singles because we don’t have enough players,” Emmett said.
The team trained by staying active throughout the year.
“We all prepared by doing off season conditioning in the fall, but really it’s just maintaining our focus and still practicing through the winter break and trying to eat right and continue to stay in shape,” Gonzales said.
Leung said he trained similarly to Gonzales.
“I kept playing during the off season,” Leung said. “So I didn’t take a break and watched my nutrition and made sure I was still in shape and I wasn’t coming back to the first game or practice out of shape.”
Emmett said he wasn’t able to prepare with the team that much in the pre-season, but is working to make up for lost time.
“We prepared as best we could,” Emmett said. “I got here and two weeks in we were in our first match. It’s just been a mixture of tennis specific things on the court, working the gym and mental training and just really getting to know each other.”
Gonzales said he hopes to make it to the state tournament this season.
“Our hopes, at least my hopes is to qualify. For us to qualify for Ojai, which is the state tournament in the end,” Gonzales said. “Last year we didn’t qualify and so my biggest hope is that we’re at least able to win one doubles match or we’re able to win two singles at conference play.”
Emmett said he wants the team to play their hardest for the remainder of the year.
“My hopes for the rest of the season are that the team and the individuals on the team grow in belief and resilience and actually go to matches believing that they have a chance and even when they’re struggling that they keep fighting that they don’t give up points and give away matches,” Emmett said.