Tennis team battles weather to prepare for Bethany

The men’s tennis team will go into the Presidents’ Athletic Conference opener Friday after not playing for over two weeks due to scheduling and weather conflicts through the month of March.

“We definitely were hoping to get a match in before we started conference play,” said head coach Ron Headlee. “We got to play down in Hilton Head and I thought our guys played well then, but we really would’ve liked to have played with somebody else before we started conference play but unfortunately it’s just not working into our schedule with the weather and everything.”

Waynesburg (4-2) began the spring portion of its season with a loss to St. Vincent and a win over Penn State Harrisburg in Hilton Head, South Carolina over spring break. Headlee said while he was pleased with how the guys performed, there was a definite difference between the first and second day of the trip.

“Our two freshmen did really well for us down there and they’re playing doubles together,” said Headlee. “Then, they had some good singles wins for us when we needed them. In the second day, Joe [English] didn’t play as well as he did in the first outing against St. Vincent, but Connor [Cassidy] came through for us on that one. Just right down the line from the first match to the second match we kept our heads better and were a little more focused the second day.”

In addition to the freshman, seniors Jonah Cooper and Josh Denham acquired a win in singles as well as a win as a doubles pair. Sophomore Brett Thumm also contributed to the team’s 5-3 victory over PSU Harrisburg with a solo win of his own.

Headlee however, said with the extended layoff the team has had an ample amount of time to prepare for the PAC opener against Bethany.

“Our guys have been working really hard in practice and I’ve been happy with the way practices have been going and the early start in Hilton Head [has] helped our guys play a lot better,” said Headlee.

When looking at Bethany, Headlee said the Bison are a tough conference opponent to start the season with, but it’s a challenge his team needs if they want to contend for a top four finish in the PAC.

“They actually have one of their better players back this year, Rhone Thrash wasn’t playing last year but he’s back and is their number two so it’s going to be a tough matchup for us right off the bat,” said Headlee. “It’s one where we need to win if we want to be in the top four.”

Another challenge that the Jackets will likely face in the first few weeks of the season is the weather. Due to a small amount of rain so far this spring, Waynesburg has been able to practice outside more than usual, but they’ve had to deal with the extreme wind.

“It’s been really windy out there, I mean for us hopefully it’ll be an advantage,” said Headlee. “But this course there is just so much wind this time of the year between the fall and spring is totally different. They’re tough conditions to practice in a lot of the time with the wind blowing the benches and everything else but fortunately we’ve been able to get out on the courts a lot, I know the past two years we’ve been in the gym the whole time.”

Regardless of the conditions or lack of play to this point, Headlee said the goals from the start of the season have remained the same and he is excited to see what they can do in PAC play.

“We have two goals for the season: to have a winning record this season, that’s one and the other one is to be in the top four of the PAC and make the tournament,” said Headlee. “They know that Bethany right off the bat is going to be a good test for us and they’ve been preparing for that and hopefully we’re ready for them Friday.”