The San Diego Mesa College men’s tennis team dropped its season opener to Orange Coast College, 7-2, at Costa Mesa last Friday afternoon. Despite the score, the Olympians fought hard, and head coach Marc Pinckney was pleased with his squad.
“I thought that our effort level was good overall,” states Pinckney. “I thought that guys tried even when the match was getting away from them. Our focus was good for a first match. I didn't see people getting distracted by things that they could not control, or by what was happening in the adjoining courts.”
First year player Nicola Anderegg had a solid showing in his first collegiate match. Although he struggled early, primarily due to lack of court time in the offseason, Anderegg was able to secure the point at the number two slot. “Nicola looks like a true number one and will continue to compete like it. We have to get him in the shape we need, and he will be just fine.”
Head coach Marc Pinckney emphasized early on the importance of being physically fit. Throughout the offseason, the team combined on court conditioning along with weight training. “I think that fitness is always the X factor in every sport,” explains Pinckney. “If you are fit, you can compete. You can extend the points and you can play the match on your terms. It is also a team-building thing. Guys who train together and struggle to get in shape together, form a bond that carries over into the season. The preseason conditioning also trains players to listen to the coaches, to pay attention to detail and to both support and push their teammates.”
Two returning players that’s expected to contribute immediately are sophomores Balraj Sangha and Alex Sridoudom. Sangha will be moved around at the top half of the line-up. “He can compete with anyone that he plays, including opponents from the Los Angeles and Orange County programs,” states Pinckney. “He has an aggressive style that he needs to stick with. He gets in trouble when he dials back his forehand, which is his biggest weapon. He needs to stick to being aggressive and controlling the point with his forehand, if he does this, he will be competitive against anyone.”
Alex Sridoudom returns with a new style of play, in which he and Pinckney has worked on all year. With his talent around the net, the coaching staff developed Alex into an attacking serve and volley player. Sridoum will be positioned at the number four slot. “He could go 12-0 in conference or he could go 5-7,” states Pinckney. “It is 100% based on his level of self-belief and his willingness to make guys hit passing shots to beat him. He has the best hands of any player that I have coached at Mesa, some of the volleys and chip returns and half-volleys he comes up with defy description. However, consistency will be the key to his success."
The biggest question surrounding the team this early into the season is how they can translate what they practice into live match play. The talent is there from the number 1 position to the number 6 slot. If they stay healthy throughout the season, this team could and should challenge for the conference.
The Olympians are back on the court on Friday, February 8 as they travel to take on Glendale College. First serve is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.