By Erin Broomell | Copy Editor
The Mariner tennis teams have a new set of goals, team members and challenges ahead of them this season.
The 2015 season opened Oct. 2 with Mariners hosting the Coastal Georgia Fall Invitational on Jekyll Island. Oct. 9 Mariners traveled to Macon to play Mercer in the Fall Invitational.
Tennis coach Camper Baker says it’s an honor. “We got invited to that which is really an honor because it’s a lot of NTAA division one teams and they felt as though we could contribute to that tournament.”
The weekend of Oct. 30, Mariners will play in the ABAC Tournament in Tifton. Men’s and Women’s teams were both nationally ranked at the end of last year (11th and 25th, respectively). The men’s team will be entering the preseason ranked 8th and the women’s team will enter in the 21st spot.
“It’s good because it validates all the hard work they have put in. But when you get ranked nationally, especially really high nationally, it puts a target on your back. Everybody is going to play their best against you. That’s challenging. You always have to be ready because we have a lot of good teams on our schedule everybody is going to want to beat us,” Baker said.
Both teams have also brought on new additions this season. There are four new players for the men’s team and two for the women’s team. There will be one additional player added to the women’s team in January.
Baker welcomes the new talent. “I think we have a really talented group, which is exciting, but whenever you have new players, you have a lot of work on your hands because you’re trying to evaluate where they are, get them into shape and get them to buy into team concepts. We have to work and develop the new players we have and get them integrated to our system to build a cohesive unit for the spring,” Baker said.
Even without the challenges new players present, Baker and the players have a high goal to reach: the men’s and women’s teams have their sights set on a nationals and a conference championship this year.
“Now that they are going to enter the pre-season rankings at number eight in the country, I think what they need to do is finish the season in the top eight and get a buy through the first round at nationals. It’s a huge advantage,” Baker continued, “The girls this year want to be in the top fifteen and get back to nationals. I think the guys are in a position to be one of those top eight teams so they get out of that first round match and be ready for the team that had to come through it. Both teams would like to compete for a conference championship this year.”