Clarksville, Ark.-Expectations are high for the freshmen as the U of O Men?s Tennis Team heads into the Spring season. Head Coach Shaun Wiseman says his expectations for this season are to qualify for the playoffs. His team has finished fifth the last three years.
“We definitely have the talent to improve, but these guys are young and they are hungry and they are willing to do anything and I believe that this year they are up there with the East Division’s top three,” said Wiseman. “The team this year is full of potential and talent.”
Coming into this spring season, the Eagles have six freshmen: Bishop Bass, Bill Blake, Corey Dillard, Bryant Ford, Greg Knaggs, and Todd Turner. Five out of the six freshmen are in the singles line-up.
“That’s a scary thing for any coach but these guys play so much beyond their years that there is a calming maturity about them that you don’t normally find in freshmen,” said Wiseman. “I keep waiting for the reality to hit that they are a just a bunch of 18-year-old guys, but the truth is these guys are mature and are like 18-year-old men already.”
The Eagles want to continue to get better and lean on the leadership of their captains, Matt Arant and Tanner Holman.
Arant had a successful season last year, receiving Capital One Academic All-American (All-District) Team honors. He looks to be a strong competitor and leader this season. Arant came in as a freshman and Wiseman has enjoyed watching him mature into a man. Wiseman is hopeful that the team can reward the seniors for sticking with the program, especially Arant who has been with the program all four years. Arant and Holman cannot carry the team alone, however, and will need the support of their teammates to be successful.
“The biggest thing is that we have a closer-knit group on the men’s side than we have ever had,” said Wiseman.
Wiseman’s goal is to have a family oriented team that is centered on academics first, then social development, and then athletics. The Eagles have the highest team grade point average since his arrival and the highest quality caliber of players.
Optimism is high as the Eagles start off in the Hendrix College Invitational February 11.
By Kaitlyn Williams, Sports Information Student Assistant