Tennis teams work to come back strong

It has been a long-awaited season for the Florida A&M University men’s and women’s tennis teams. Now that the fall season of tournaments is over, the games can finally begin. The teams last took the court more than a month ago, and the athletes of both teams are anxious to show off what they have been working on all year.

Last season, the men’s team fell short of victory, losing 4-3 in the championship to South Carolina State University. The team finished with a 23-6 record, giving them the No. 2 MEAC rank coming into this season.

After the disappointing end to last year’s season, the Rattlers are back and ready to demand a title.Men’s Head Coach Carl Goodman said he expects a consistent season on the court from his players.

He also mentioned a conference championship, as well as the team aiming for a national championship this year in his list of things to do.

“(The men’s team) should be able to do it, and we can definitely expect a national ranking this year,” Goodman said.Freshman Clifford Malivert, the No. 1 seat for the men’s team, said he is excited about the upcoming season.

“We’ve been training extra hard,” the 21-year-old criminal justice student from Miami said. “Conditioning, weightlifting and intense practice from 3:30-6 (p.m.). I’m ready to show all the work we put in. I can’t wait.”

Assistant coach Pfungwa Mahefu said the men’s team is looking to be the MEAC’s No. 1 seat in the conference, but for now, fans can just expect the team to play good tennis until they get the ranking for which they are looking.

“We’re just trying to get the guys physically and mentally prepared for their competition,” Mahefu said. “We’re also trying to shed these few pounds some (team members) picked up during the break.”

With a 19-game season ahead of the the Lady Rattlers, Head Coach Rochelle “Nikki” Goldthreate, enforced conditioning for her players after the three-week winter break.

“The ladies have been doing a lot of long-distance running and working on more short agility workouts to prepare them for matches,” Goldthreate said.

The women’s team, a fairly young team, is now ranked seventh in the MEAC.

The team is looking to turn that around with hard work and consistency.

“We’re ready for this season,” said Samaria Bailey, a junior from Macon, Ga.

The women’s team, which is still one player short of a complete roster, is not letting that hold their confidence back.”I believe we’re going to be awesome,” Goldthreate said. “The team is young but they’re going to grow, and they are going to bring a lot to existing sophomores and juniors. They have a lot of talent.”

The fall season was an introduction for the new team. Their previous tournaments were merely warm ups to the new comers and overall preparation for these athletes.

The Lady Rattlers have been working hard all year and have been patiently waiting on the spring season to roll around.”You can expect a big improvement from last season and last semester,” said Bailey, 20.

The women’s team looks to take on Georgia Southern University Jan. 27 in Statesboro, Ga. for its first match of the season.

The men’s team kicks off its season against Florida State University Friday Jan. 19, 3 p.m at FSU.

“We only expect to get out of this season as much work as we put in, and that’s a whole lot,” Malivert said. “And as for a championship, stay tuned.”