Back in the swing of things

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Photo by Photo Editor Kira Bretsky '27

After their match against Johns Hopkins was postponed last weekend, the Muhlenberg men’s tennis team had their first match of the spring season this past weekend against the nationally-ranked Swarthmore College. While it was the start of the season for the Mules, it was also a season of new beginnings for the team, as they recently welcomed Doug Maynard as their new head coach. Captain Gabe Tamarkin ’26 touched upon what it means to begin a season with Coach Manyard at the helm. Tamarkin said, “Coach Maynard from the second he got here has instilled a strong work ethic in the team. The team is learning so much from him and [his] presence is making us better every day.” From the perspective of Tamarkin, we can see that the Mules are well-positioned for success as they are learning every day from Maynard.

Josh Benson ‘24 touched upon what it means to be one of the captains for the team and how the team maintains chemistry. He said, “Player-to-player relationships are key and something that, with such a large freshman class, is essential. We’ve had team meals and other similar bonding events that most people attended to foster connections within the team. A focus on open communication is also important so we can nip conflict in the bud. It has been nice to get a better connection within the team and that couldn’t happen without everyone buying in. Coach Maynard has been great at facilitating accountability within our program, and in his short time here is already putting an emphasis on playing for the team in what can often be seen as an individual performance.”

Josh Simon ‘27 also reflected on the atmosphere under Manyard. He said, “Coach Maynard is great. He is what this team needs. It’s been interesting to get to know his coaching style but he gives structure to a team [that] needs it. He knows what this team needs and he seems excited to get things done.”

While the match against Swarthmore resulted in a loss, the Mules are excited about how they performed for the first time on the court in months. Tamarkin said, “I think the effort we put in against a nationally ranked opponent in Swarthmore was incredible. I was looking forward to us being competitive, and we were able to compete for sure.” The Mules are ready to contend throughout the rest of their season as they continue to face fierce Centennial Conference (CC) competition.

Benson reflected on the first match, “After our first loss this season, it’s important to bounce back and not let this loss impact us too much and get into our heads. Battling in matches is something we’re hoping to improve. Some of the guys had great battles, but we want to have a more consistent approach to battling every point, even if we’re down. We also should focus more on not overcomplicating things. We played a good team, but they looked even better when we tried to do more than we needed to and wound up giving them free points.”

Simon touched on some of the initiatives the team needs to work on after the first spring match. He said, “Something that needs a little work that our coach pointed out to us is the atmosphere. He told us we never want to be in a situation where the other team is louder than us in our home facility. We need to keep the energy as high as we can throughout the entire match.”

Tamarkin elaborated on what it means to be a captain of the tennis team, “As captain, I have made sure to emphasize that we are in a period of adjustment with a new coach, and we need to keep working to be routine in our practices and matches. Our player-to-player relationships are so vital to the team, especially since the majority, if not all of our starting lineup, are first-year students. I think the arrival of Coach Maynard has only strengthened our chemistry and we will continue to bond as a young up-and-coming team looking to make our presence known within the Centennial Conference.”

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