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Choctaws Tennis Preseason Outlook
The Mississippi College tennis teams hit the courts this Friday for their season opener.
The Mississippi College tennis teams have undergone a variety of changes for the upcoming 2022-2023 season. With not only a new head coach from New York but also the addition of ten new players, there is a multitude of fresh faces to help the Choctaws kick off their spring season with a new energy.
The teams are extremely unique in that twelve different countries are represented with a variety of languages being spoken across the board.
Head Coach Michael Ward was born and raised in Clinton, where he played for the Mississippi College tennis team all four years of college. Since then, he has been working at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy and training some of the best junior players in the country. A plethora of successful players have come out of the McEnroe Academy, so the team is confident that Coach Ward knows what it takes to win.
Coach Ward believes the team is right on track in their training. “The team is doing a great job. We are bringing a great level of intensity and work ethic, and the team is reaching my standards very quickly. They are earning my respect by working hard. They work hard in the mornings on the track three times a week, in the gym twice a week, and in the afternoons we are out on court together. So I feel really good [about our] preparation going into the season.”
The women’s team has added Gabrielle Geolier and Anna Hudson to their roster this year. Geolier is a junior transfer from Murray State, while Hudson is a freshman from Ocean Springs. The women’s team is captained by junior Elyangelica Alas and sophomore Emma Roberts.
Junior Fernanda Cota is excited for her third season on the Choctaw tennis team. “I’m ready to give my best and see the results that come. We have been practicing a lot more than before. We are running every day in the mornings, and practices are super intense. Coach is always trying to motivate us to eat healthy, rest, to do active recovery, and he has helped us stay super motivated.”
Alas is also feeling hopeful for the season. “We improved our conditioning so that we can last longer in matches, and we’ve worked hard on having a positive mentality in our matches. I think this season will be better than the last because we are super connected as a team this year, and I believe it will bring us even better results than the last. We need to continue the trend we have been working the last six months, keep working hard, keep ourselves and our team motivated. With the guidance of Coach Ward, I believe we will be successful whether we win or not.”
The men’s team is captained by junior Joseph Jarvis and transfer Alvaro Saint Martin. The men’s team has added an additional eight new players to their roster. Josh Blundell-Williams, Diego De Cooman, Yu-Hsiang Huang, Felipe Iser, Sam Izrael, and Rafael Sabio make up the new freshman class. Antoine Nivault and Saint Martin are both junior transfers. Nivault previously attended the University of Lorraine and CNED Lyon, while Saint Martin came from Tyler Junior College.
Jarvis believes the team has improved significantly in the last five months. “Coach has been focusing on improving our fitness and, through that, our confidence. I think he has been successful, and the team has really improved in our endurance and confidence levels. I am excited to compete with all the newcomers. They are continually making me improve as a player, and hopefully I am doing the same for them.”
Saint Martin seemed to be in agreement with Jarvis. “I feel with this group we will be able to do some great things, especially now that we are getting closer and able to hang out together more. However, we need to keep practicing a lot, get our confidence up, and keep getting in our practice and fitness hours. They will be crucial for us.”
The Choctaws’ first match is a scrimmage against Meridian Community College at home on Friday, January 27.
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