Rough start no problem for eager tennis team

By Devon Jeffreys |

Opening up against the top teams in the country has led the Flagler men’s tennis team to a 0-4 start to the 2008 season, but the team believes the foundation is in place for a good season.

“The score might not show it, but each time we’ve gotten better and better,” freshman David Cotrone said. “It’s not indicative of how we’ve played. It’s helped us get better as we go along.”

Cotrone is playing at the No. 1 position at Flagler despite being one of the youngest players on the team. He has a 1-3 singles record this year against the top players in the NAIA and NCAA Div. II.

Flagler’s early schedule has included three of the top four teams in NCAA Div. II. The Saints opened up with a loss to No. 4 Armstrong Atlantic. A tight match against their former rival NAIA No. 3 SCAD came down to a loss by Jeremy Lamande at the No. 5 position.

Lamande’s loss was his first singles match of his senior season. Despite the team’s struggles to start, Lamande isn’t discouraged by the team’s play.

“We’ve got a really good spirit in the team,” Lamande said. “We’ve played the best teams in the nation. That’s made it tough to get off to a really good start at the beginning.”

The loss to SCAD was followed by back-to-back losses to NCAA Div. II No. 2 Valdosta State and No. 1 Lynn University.

“Personally I would have liked to play some teams that weren’t so highly ranked off the bat so that we could get a few warm up matches and then go on,” sophomore Aaron Haines said. “We definitely have a really strong team, but we’ve had to play these really tough teams and just haven’t been able to warm up.”

The Saints start March with six straight home matches against unranked teams.

“I think when we finally find a team to beat, we’ll be hungry,” Coach Walter Shinn said. “We won’t be complacent. This team is made up of a bunch of winners. They don’t like losing.”

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