By Nathanael Hawthorne
Youngstown State University has a reputation of championship-winning athletic programs. One of those teams with a pedigree of success is the men’s tennis team.
Last year, the Penguins had a successful season with an overall score of 12-8 and 5-1 in the Horizon League Conference. The team lost in the semifinals of the conference championship tournament.
The Penguins took last year’s loss as fuel for their training regime and focused on physical and mental training for the season ahead.
“We worked on our conditioning and our strength with our conditioning coach,” junior Vasilis Vardakis said. “We worked on our mental game as well.”
Now, they are motivated and ready to take on the 2019 season.
“Everyone came back with a lot of positive vibes,” senior Joao Garretto said. “Everyone is willing to work hard, and I’m really looking forward to [the season].”
The Penguins lost a couple of players from last year, but according to Vardakis, the new players recruited will be important assets to the team as it attempts to get back to the conference playoffs.
“These two recruits give us great options and will leave us in a great situation for the conference,” Vardakis said.
Freshman Laurentiu Mandocescu, one of the newest additions to the Penguins, was excited to see the hard work and dedication the team has to their sport.
“The first thing I saw when I came here was that everyone was so dedicated and motivated to do something better,” Mandocescu said. “I saw the dedication to the cause of winning the conference.”
Another important factor for the team is the chemistry exuding in practices.
“The strongest aspect is just us,” Vardakis said. “We have the mindset that we have to work to get our game back. Through this work, we’re going to try to gain confidence.”
The right mindset, team chemistry and motivation will lead the Penguins to success on the court. The leadership of the upperclassmen also plays a large role in the team’s attitude.
“We have a lot of experience on this team now,” Garretto said. “We have a lot of players that were here for three years, so we’re going to help the freshmen and [underclassmen] become better players and hopefully can help us in the conference.”
As the team looks toward the approaching season, it expects one thing: a conference championship.
The Penguin’s first invitational is Sept. 20 in Toledo, Ohio.