Nile McNair, Contributing Writer
Men’s tennis is off to a fast start this season with a record of 7-2, including a six-match win streak.
Individual performances on the court have fueled the team’s wins and yielded a handful of Atlantic 10 player of the week awards.
Three rams have received the honor this season: juniors Inigo Torre Martin and Timo Zgraggen, and sophomore Charles Bertimon.
“It is always nice to get a reward for what you do on a daily basis,” Torre Martin said. “Three players on our team have already got it, so it shows that we’re doing the right thing as a team and not just individually.”
Despite the hot start, things will not get easier for the Rams in their upcoming matches. What is expected to be their toughest match of the season will be this Saturday against the No. 23 Iowa Hawkeyes.
The match will give the Rams an early-season opportunity to accomplish a team goal: get into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top 50 rankings.
“Our coach this morning told us we were [No.] 51,” Zgraggen said. “So if we play a couple more good matches, I think we can get there.”
The Rams have gotten off to a much better start than a year ago. The black and gold were inconsistent last year — they started off with a 5-4 record, in which they had both a four-game winning and losing streak in those first nine matches.
The preparation the team put in during the fall semester helped the Rams get ready for the season.
“I think we’ve been putting in a lot of work in the preseason,” coach Anthony Rossi said. “We changed a few things from that last season, spending most of the fall semester working on conditioning and stuff like that.”
The Rams returned four players from last year and added four freshmen, who are already making an impact. Freshman Lleyton Cronje has teamed up with Bertimon in doubles, winning their last two matches in a row. Cronje has been a consistent face in the Rams’ lineup on the court.
This year’s group is looking to uphold previous years’ standards; they could do so by bringing home a fourth-straight A-10 conference championship.
However, another goal is to expand the team’s brand and get those in the community involved with what’s going on.
“One of the goals for VCU is to get a new facility, so we are trying to bring out a lot of people and get them involved,” Rossi said. “Once the people come and see what the matches look like and the passion and energy we have during the matches I think they will have fun.”