Men’s tennis coach says team steadily improving

The Florida A&M University men’s tennis team is remaining confident that a successful season is still not too far out of reach, despite having a young team and a lot of inconsistent play.

Although halfway through the season with a sub-par record (11-10), head coach Carl Goodman said things can still end up on a good note for the team because a lot of the matches lost were close, which is something than can be corrected.

“Most of the matches we’ve lost have been 3-4,” Goodman said. “So with that in mind, if things could have gone a little differently, we could easily be anywhere like 16-5 actually on the season.”

Goodman said he is extremely thrilled with his team’s victories over Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponents Norfolk State University and South Carolina State University.

“The fact that we were able to defeat NSU 6-1 is very impressive,” Goodman said.

Pre-season rankings listed NSU at the top of the MEAC standings. Since the start of the season, both NSU and SCSU have been going back and forth for a shot at being the conference’s most dominant team. 

“I feel that since we were able to defeat NSU pretty solidly and edge rival SCSU 4-3, maybe we are capable of playing with the best,” Goodman said. “With more consistent play we have a shot at being near the top at the end of the season.”

Despite some of the team’s shortcomings, the goal is still to win the MEAC Championship, and confidence is still high. Assistant coach Pfungwa Mahefu described the season as a rollercoaster ride with a lot of ups and downs, but said the players are starting to come around.

“I feel the team is starting to improve and our goal to win the MEAC Championship still looks really good right now because of recent huge wins,” Mahefu said. “The guys are getting better and preparing well for the championships.”

The tennis team consists of nine players: three freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and three seniors. With about 13 years of playing experience, freshman Michael Moore, the team captain, said he is clear what his strengths and weaknesses are.

“Doubles is probably my strongest, but I’ve been doing better in singles,” said Moore, 19, a New York native. “However as a team we just need to keep improving.”

Moore and senior tennis player Clifford Malivert have 29 years of experience combined. Malivert, an athlete from Miami, said he has been playing for years.

“I’ve been playing tennis since the age of 6 and I’m 22 now, so that’s 16 years I’ve been playing,” said Malivert, 22, a criminal justice student.

Overall the team’s confidence and tenacity seem to be at an all-time high. It has an early lead in the MEAC South Division. Despite a youthful team things are still bright and Mahefu still has at positive outlook.

“We’re at the point in the season where we determine just how good or bad we finish,” he said.

The next tennis match is scheduled for Saturday at Winston-Salem.