Men’s tennis could be poised for a better season

Cooper Bridge lunges to counter his opponent from Cal Poly.
Cooper Bridge lunges to counter his opponent from Cal Poly.

As tennis season comes upon us, it’s crucial to note the successes and (mostly) failures that the UCR men’s tennis team has had in the past. Last year was a rough season, where the Highlanders went a mere 4-16. So far the program has not had a winning season in its eight-year history, but given that the team has been relatively young, this isn’t unexpected. However, the team has made changes in the coaching department that could change this history.

Recently, the department of athletics introduced Mattias Johansson as the new head coach of the men’s tennis team. Johannson previously coached for Vanguard University, where his team won eight Golden State Athletic Conference championships, five conference tournament championships, and made 29 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Tournament appearances (17 men, 12 women) advancing to the quarterfinals 17 times (nine men, eight women). Furthermore, he was named the Golden State Athletic Conference’s Coach of the Year on four different occasions and was recently inducted into the Vanguard Hall of Fame. Coming off of the poor performance last season, it will definitely be interesting to watch the Highlanders as they develop.

While the 6-1 loss to San Diego State University (SDSU) in the season opener on Saturday was not encouraging for the Highlanders, the long season ahead provides ample opportunity to improve and develop chemistry with the new coach — a process which often takes time. This season may well be a seminal one for the Highlanders, and may even be enough to jumpstart a winning season. With a new leader at the helm in Johansson combined with the motivation to earn the program’s first-ever winning record, the UCR men’s tennis team will be one worth watching this season.

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