The University of Utah Men’s tennis team will participate in the Gonzaga Invitational held in Spokane, Washington this week from Oct. 26 to Oct. 28, followed by the Gopher Invitational in Minneapolis, Minnesota from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4. Coach Roeland Brateanu, who recently received the Don Reddish award — given to the coach outside of basketball, football and gymnastics who had the most successful season — expects his roster to perform well in the competitive pre-season matches. The Utes will travel up to Spokane to compete against the likes of well ranked, established programs like Gonzaga University as well as many other schools in the Pacific Northwest.
The Utes prepared themselves by competing in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regionals in Las Vegas last week. This round robin should help the Utes compete in the Gonzaga Invitational, facing D1 competition, acclimating to the pressure and challenges of the tennis season.
Coach Roeland Brateanu employs a veteran lineup led by senior captain, Dan Little, who will play one single. The lineup features three seniors and two juniors who look to impart their knowledge to those younger players who round out the roster. This tournament will provide great matches with low stakes and prepare the team — especially the freshman, who are enjoying some of their first collegiate level matches and adjusting to the pace and atmosphere of collegiate tennis.
The raucous atmosphere of NCAA tennis is a large adjustment for many new players. Some feed off of the energy while others get distracted and disgruntled as tennis is an etiquette sport meant to be enjoyed with very minimal noise. Freshmen Mathias Gavelin, Paul McCallie and RJ Parker encounter these changes this weekend in Spokane.
The intricacies and individual matchups unique to tennis cause these preseason tournaments to be particularly influential in piecing together the lineups as the season progresses. Every tennis match varies, yet the rapid yet grueling pace of play remains consistent — because of this, Coach Brateanu and his staff should be able to determine skills and tendencies of their players revealed in the environment of competitive collegiate play. One player to watch at the tournament is Svyatoslav (Slava) Shainyan, who looks to rebound from an underwhelming sophomore campaign after an incredible freshman season. He will look to compliment Little and Joe Wooley at the top of the lineup. These matches should present an excellent opportunity for this hungry group to dub themselves contenders for different spots on the team as well as contenders in the mighty Pac-12 conference.
The Utes men’s tennis team aspires to grow both as individual players and as a team throughout the invitational. Through the shared experience, they plan to toughen up for the season to come and fight for different spots in the lineup drawn out by coach Roeland Brateanu.