No. 12 men’s tennis attributes impressive 9-1 season start to growth, resilience


George Murray / Hilltop Views

In their recent match against St. Mary’s, junior Luis Diaz earned a 6-2 victory in his doubles match with senior teammate Zac Robinson. Diaz and the rest of the Hilltoppers have earned a No. 2 national ranking with their impressive season start.

The St. Edward’s University men’s tennis team has started its season off with a strong footing as the team currently ranks No.12 in the Lone Star Conference with an overall record of 9-1. 

Head coach Estevam Strecker commented on the team’s current ranking in the conference. 

“I think it’s a combination of experience and youth. Last year we graduated four seniors, but we returned the top-four singles players and the top-four doubles players as well,” he said. “We returned the top of the lineup, and then you add six freshmen who are hungry to get into the lineup, I think it’s a great combination.” 

Although Strecker did say the combination of a young and ambitious team is good, there are challenges that they’ve had to overcome to have such a hot season start. 

“The primary challenge every year is getting them back into the routine of practicing, conditioning and playing. The returners have an advantage because they know what a fall season looks like and they know what a spring looks like,” Strecker says. “Every freshman that comes to campus, every day is a new day. Every time we go somewhere and play, that’s their first time playing against that team.”

Strecker says success relies on the effort that the team is willing to put in. 

“From day one, I’ve been trying to send the message to them that if everyone is healthy, and everybody is playing to their capabilities, then we have a solid team and we could do a lot of cool things.” 

Chase Bartlett, a senior captain on the team, talked about the team’s attitude about their ranking. 

“I don’t think it’s changed how we approach things. I think it’s part of our identity. We’ve been trying to get into the top ten for the past four years. Now that we’ve got it, nothing’s changed. We’re still putting in the same amount of work.” 

Bartlett also mentioned that the team has had to overcome injuries as well. 

“Another big thing is injuries. We face a lot of injuries, so each year is about injury prevention. It’s about making sure we don’t have big, season-ending injuries.”

Zac Robinson, another senior, says that having a team identity has played a part in how the team carries itself. 

“I think establishing the culture we want to have in the program. Teaching the freshmen, getting them on the same page with our goals.” 

Robinson shared his thoughts on how he thinks the rest of the season will go.

“We aren’t playing our best yet, which is exciting because if we continue playing how we are, I think we can achieve some really cool things this semester.” 

The Hilltoppers are preparing for the San Antonio Intercollegiate Championship on Saturday, March 14.