Despite finishing last season with an impressive record of 20-8, the men’s tennis team suffered a devastating loss to South Carolina State University during the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference finals last year.
Having only lost two players from last season and gaining three freshmen to play this season, the men’s tennis team expects to bring the conference title home to Tallahassee.
“It was good that they loss in the finals as a young team,” said assistant coach Noel Wadawu.
“Now they are really hungry for the championship.”
Wadawu, who is also a former member of the men’s tennis team, said last year’s team was comprised of role players due to the inexperience of the young team.
However, he said the team this season is made of leaders, from whom he said he is expecting great things from. In only his second year as assistant coach, Wadawu admits it has been a difficult transition from center court to the sidelines.
“It’s been an adjustment going from player to coach when you are just sitting there watching and you can’t influence the result,” Wadawu said.
Of the leaders on this season’s team is sophomore captain Jarrel Williams.
As a freshman last season, Williams said it took awhile for him to adapt to playing collegiate tennis.
“College tennis is more of a team sport, I had to learn to rely on my teammates,” Williams said.
Williams, in individual matches, never suffered any loses to MEAC players, losing only six individual matches over all.
His accomplishments on the court and in the classroom, having one of the highest grade point averages on the team, have earned him his position as captain. Spending the majority of last summer playing in pre-qualifying tournaments against players who are potential professionals, Williams said he’s seen his skills improve.
Wadawu and head coach Carl Goodman begin each season by setting three goals for their players: Win the MEAC Conference championship title, rank nationally and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Helping them reach their goals will be senior Pfungwa Mahefu.
Mahefu, a 22-year-old political science student from Zimbabwe said, “I don’t focus on winning, it comes as an added bonus.”
Despite experiencing the loss of the conference championship, Mahefu had a breakout season and was invited to represent Florida A&M University in tournaments such as the Icy Hot All-American tournament.
Losing to a player from Boise State in the second qualifying round, Mahefu said he was glad to have just competed in the biggest college tennis tournaments.
Mahefu said his team is responsible for motivating him and making him a better player. As his final season approaches, Mahefu doesn’t just want to win the conference championship. He said he hopes to groom the upcoming freshmen this season by teaching them what he has learned.
Aware that more than half of their season will be against opponents such as Miami, Clemson, South Florida and East Tennessee State, teams all highly ranked and outside of their conference.
Each member of the men’s tennis team is anxious to begin playing. They are accepting the challenge of keeping FAMU a name in men’s tennis and working on winning a conference championship they believe belongs to them.
Contact Shayna Tutson at email@example.com