By Ryan Day | email@example.com
Tennis head coach Walter Shinn is quick to tell you that the Flagler tennis program’s best days are ahead of it.
“I’d say the biggest problem this year for the men’s team has been our inability to stay healthy,” Shinn said. “Every match someone was playing with pain. Harry [Snoxell] had a hurt elbow, Kyle [Maloof] had a bad wrist, Jeremy [Lamande] was hurt as well.”
“My elbow started hurting halfway through the season,” freshman David Cotrone said. “It got so bad I have to have surgery on it two weeks into the summer.”
Despite the pain, Cotrone, the No. 1 player on the men’s team, played all season and led the squad to a 7-8 singles record. Notwithstanding the below-.500 singles play, the men’s tennis team truly excelled in doubles play.
On the season the men’s doubles teams, led by senior Aaron Haines and junior Kyle Maloof’s 10-4 doubles record, compiled a 27-18 overall record, their best since 2006. The three doubles teams shutout Division-I schools such as Army and Eastern Kentucky University and all finished with winning records.
“I can pinpoint Aaron Haines as the player who worked the hardest at his game on the team,” Shinn said.
But good doubles play couldn’t salvage what Shinn called “an uphill battle to begin the season.”
“The first four games of the season were against top-5 teams. We started off our season against the No. 4 Div. II team in the nation in Armstrong Atlantic out of Savannah, then SCAD, the No. 3 team, then Valdosta State, the No. 2 team and then Lynn University, the No. 1, very best, Div. II team in the country. It’s encouraging to see us come back from four straight losses to finish 7-3 in our final ten games,” Shinn said.
“What’s also encouraging is that I can see this year’s freshmen providing leadership for the next few years. I can see players like David [Cotrone] and Harry [Snoxell] being solid parts of this program. Their personalities and actions lend themselves to being real leaders on this team for a long time.”
“The players we have coming in next year aren’t your typical freshmen,” Snoxell said. “They’re experienced, they’ve played national tournaments, they’ll be training all summer for this. It’ll be good.”
The women’s tennis team, led by the No. 1 player Chelsi de Cuba fared almost the same as the men’s team in singles play going 7-9. The doubles teams, led by freshman Deon Miller and sophomore Fernanda Ospina, didn’t have the same success as the men, only going 21-27.
“What’s the same with the men’s and women’s teams is that I’m truly encouraged with what I saw in the younger players this season. [Sophomore] Fernanda Ospina is definitely the most improved player on our roster,” Shinn said. “That’s not to discredit the seniors because I think Chelsi de Cuba played tougher than anyone else.”
“To improve next year I think the women’s team could work on our fitness. If we could become a little quicker we would gain a huge advantage over our opponents. We just need to put in a little more work and the benefit would be tremendous,” freshman Chelsea Taylor said. “I really enjoyed the girls on the team and am going to miss the seniors that are leaving.”
“For next year, we’ve got to become stronger. We can’t be looking over our shoulder at this guy or that guy. We’ve got to be focused solely and entirely on being as good and strong as possible,” Shinn said.
“With the recruits we’re getting in next year on both the men’s and women’s side, we’re going to have a very deep roster next year and I’m excited.”
To read more about the Flagler tennis teams, see individual stats, team results or schedules visit Flagler’s athletics web page at athletics.flagler.edu.