Florida A&M University’s men’s tennis team is gearing up for a fresh season. Its first match is at home on Sunday, and the team agreed it is ready for new challenges.
Player Forrest Jenkins said one way the Rattlers’ spring season will be different from the fall season is that the focus then was more on individual performances than team outcomes.
“We have practiced hard, and we plan to do well,” said Jenkins, 19, sophomore business student from Houston.
So far the tennis team has played in two non-conference match-ups against the University of South Florida and the University of Memphis in Tampa.
Clifford Malivert, the team captain, said the team performed well. He was impressed with the men’s effort.
“Together we did well, and individually we did well,” said Malivert, 22, a criminal justice student from Miami. “We went out and executed the best way we could.”
Malivert won first team conference last year and his overall record was 19-9. He said he feels the team will improve on last season’s success. Last year the Rattlers came runner-up to Hampton in the conference finals and this year they have plans to take first place.
“Last season we came in second in the conference,” said Pfungwa Mahefeu, the assistant men’s tennis coach. “It was a good tournament, and we were disappointed.”
Mahefeu also said the team has set a goal this season to go out and win the conference finals.
And who does he think will be key players in reaching those goals?
Mahefeu said his top players going into this season are Clifford Malivert and William Mau-asam. Ultimately, the game of tennis is a team effort, and Jenkins said this is true.
“Our coaches have their own plans, but it is up to us to go out there win,” Jenkins said. “At the end of the day it’s up to us to come through and bring home a championship.”
The team lost a senior but gained three new freshmen this year. Jenkins said the coaches have done their part in stepping up the training.
“We are doing a lot of running and mainly endurance training so we move faster on the court,” he said.
Mahefeu also said the team is conditioning better and is working more on techniques and the fundamentals. The team had a very good workout in the fall season, as it has proved in the warm-up games against USF and Memphis.
The team said its biggest competition in the MEAC conference is Hampton University. Outside of the conference, their competition will be Florida State and Clemson universities. Nevertheless, the men’s tennis team remains hopeful and optimistic.
“We are hungry,” Malivert said. “We want to win the national championship.”