Florida A & M men’s tennis coach Carl Goodman was pleased with his players’ performance after facing some tough competition this past weekend at the Thomasville Collegiate Invitational.
The Rattlers took two of their youngest players to the six-team tournament. Freshman transfer Chidi Gabriel and reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Takura Happy both failed to get wins in the opening round of singles matches on Friday.
Gabriel fell to one of Georgia State’s top players Vincent Verpeaux 7-6; 6-1. He struggled to regain rhythm after the strings on his racket broke while serving to win the first set that he ultimately loss.
“I need my killer instincts to do my best. I felt like it wasn’t there,” Gabriel said of the losses.
Happy was defeated by Valdosta State’s Konstantin Kutschenko 6-3; 6-1. Kutschenko finished the tournament in the top four.
They each won following matches in the consolation singles quarterfinals round against players from the other side of the tracks. Gabriel defeated Owen Long in straight sets, while Happy trumped Andres Bucaro both of Florida State University.
Happy and Gabriel then suffered losses at the hands of University of West Florida’s Mike Lue and Andrey Pozhidaev, respectively.
Despite losing the matches Goodman said he was proud of the effort from his young players.
“The guys did pretty good. They came in, I think, seventh and eighth place,” he said. “They had the opportunity to play four matches and that was the main thing to try to get them ready for the fall season basically.”
Goodman also said that playing such high competition early will prepare his team for the rest of the schedule. The Rattlers will see their next action at the end of this month in Atlanta to compete in the HBCU championships.
In doubles matches, the duo was shutout by VSU’s Daniel Dueren and Luis Loeffler 8-0 and fell 9-7 to the University of South Alabama’s Dauw Kruger and Parker Allen.
The Lady Rattlers fared slightly better than their male counterparts as four of the five made it out of their opening round singles match.
Junior Kathline Durden did the most damage. Durden advanced past the quarterfinal round for a top-four finish.
She defeated Glen Arven in the round of 16 in straight sets.
In the semifinal, she defeated UWF’s Jacqueline March in straight sets once again.
The other opening round victories include Britney Dean over Valdosta State’s Jessica Tuggle 6-4, 6-2; Bethany Holt over VSU’s Leslie Roberge 6-3, 6-7, 10-2; and Latreece Olagbegi over UWF’s Naomi Higa 7-5, 4-6, 10-8.
The women will also head to Atlanta at the end of September for the HBCU championships.