The men’s tennis team will travel to Jacksonville for their first dual match of the season Saturday against the Jacksonville University Dolphins.
Last February, the Rattler men defeated Jacksonville with a hotly contested score of four matches to three.
“Last year, the Jacksonville match went down to the last match. Zura [Zhvania] had to pull it out for us.” said Pfungwa Mahefu, a junior from Zimbabwe.
This year’s group of Rattlers is younger and less experienced than last season’s team.
“We have a young team. We don’t really know what they have yet,” assistant coach Noel Wadawu said. “This is a chance for them to prove themselves.”
The Rattlers have gotten off to a shaky start this season and will be looking to use Saturday’s match against JU as a springboard to turn the season around.
“We lost our first three matches, so this will be a chance for us to start off the year right,” junior Davin Russell said.
Like FAMU, JU’s team is young. According to collegetennisonline.com, the Dolphins roster includes five freshmen. Jacksonville head coach Andre Herke will probably rely mostly on his older, more experienced players against the Rattlers.
“They’ve got three solid players at the top (of their lineup), so it’s going to be a tough match.” Wadawu said.
One player the Rattlers will likely rely on during Saturday’s competition is top-seed Pfungwa Mahefu. As one of the leaders of the team, Mahefu has accepted his role and knows that his plays are going to set the tone for the rest of the team.
“As the No. 1 seed, I am the character of the team,” Mahefu said. “Once you get the head, the body will follow.”
contact Nick Birdsong at MrBirdsong@hotmail.com.