Men’s tennis adjusts to new players, rules

The men’s tennis team is preparing for the upcoming season in January after losing four players to graduation.

The players have been doing morning long-distance runs, going to the weight room and playing preseason matches.

Head coach Carl Goodman said last season ended well. The men were the subdivision season champions in the Mid- Eastern Athletic Conference and placed second in the conference tournament.

Salif Kante, who graduated in May, was player of the year. Kante was one of four seniors who helped spur FAMU to its 3-1 record in conference.

“We won a lot of matches,” Goodman said. “Some of the matches we did lose, they were extremely close.”

New players must adjust to certain rule changes for the MEAC, Goodman said. This year, there is a “no let” rule when serving.
“If you call a ‘let,’ you can do the serve over again,” Goodman said. “But in college, if you serve the ball and it hits the net and it lands in the server’s box, you have to play the ball.”

Goodman said another change for freshmen is the pressure to succeed. College tennis is a team effort. The players compete in individual matches, but to do well as a team, players must win four of the six singles matches.

This season, the team has three freshmen: Courage Okungbowa, Jalen Evans and Nubian Dae Jean-Charles.
The preseason tournaments this semester showed new players what to expect.

“Those who are true freshmen, I’m trying to get them acclimated in the college setting and college play,” Goodman said.
Admire Mushonga, a senior from Mutare, Zimbabwe, said the team is lacking experience.

“We have more freshmen,” Mushonga said. “They’re competitive, challenging and very good. Those guys will be ready to play. That is a good sign for us starting the season next semester.”

Zack Evenden, a junior from London, won eight matches last year. Evenden said the team is anxiously awaiting recruiters to bring in new players to compete.

“We’re training hard,” Evenden said. “We are getting ourselves in the right mindset to prepare ourselves for the MEAC championship.”

The first match will take place Jan. 11. FAMU will compete against the University of South Alabama at home.