Men’s tennis strives to succeed in sectionals

Facing his doubles partner,                                 captain Sebastian DesRoberts                               works on his forehand. DesRoberts and Gupta hope to do well at State.

Liz Claire Rodriguez

Facing his doubles partner, captain Sebastian DesRoberts works on his forehand. DesRoberts and Gupta hope to do well at State.

Sofia Snyder, asst. sports editor

The men’s tennis team recently began their season winning five of their most recent meets. According to head coach Larry Faulkner, the team hopes to succeed as they move farther into the season.

According to Faulkner, the team is missing three of their top players due to injury but believes they can still do well. Faulkner hopes that while they have key players out, other players step up and bring depth to the team.

“You hope everyone is working hard for their opportunity to play,” Faulkner said. “They have to play up a level so to speak. Instead of playing [number] two [doubles], they play [number] one [doubles], instead of playing [nmber] three [singles] they’ll play [number] two [singles]. So, it’s the same, but it’s a little different because the competition is much tougher when you play up a position. But it’s an opportunity to play better people and who doesn’t want to do that?”

On April 4, The Titans played Oak Park River Forest and won 4-3, with all but two of the matches going into tiebreakers, according to Faulkner.

“The kids really competed well [against them], so I think that’s the thing to take away is that we were competing really well, with missing three great players,” Faulkner said. “It was fun, exciting for kids to be working hard and a lot of them playing above where they normally play. Some of them winning some of them just missing the opportunity to win. It was just exciting.”

Sophomore Michael Bukhalo, who was recently ranked number one for boys sixteen and under in Chicago, received fourth place at the Libertyville tournament and captain Bryce MccLanahan placed third. According to Bukhalo, he placed fourth because he was forced to withdraw from his match after he sprained his ankle.

“I sprained my ankle in my second match but continued to play [in the tournament],” Bukhalo said. “It’s really upsetting that I’m going to miss a few important meets, but I hope [to] come back stronger [than before].”

According to captain Sebastian DesRoberts, who is also injured, he still hopes that from what he’s seen at practices, the Titans will be able to make it all the way to state. DesRoberts hopes that the team will be able to qualify their number one and two singles and doubles team, which hasn’t happened in the past three years, according to DesRoberts.

“This season is looking pretty good,” DesRoberts said. “For sectionals one of our biggest competitors was moved, […so], if we could get all four [South] teams into the state tournament we could do incredibly well. My partner [Rohan Gupta] and I are striving to get all state, and hopefully go as far as we can in the state tournament.”

Since being named captain, DesRoberts has been working closely with the coaches and leading team bonding activities with MccLanahan in order to help the team grow closer, according to DesRoberts. DesRoberts believes that talking to and encouraging the underclassmen will have the same affect on them that it had on him when he was a freshman.

“I remember [as a] freshman just talking to the seniors, [they weren’t] even significant conversations,” DesRoberts said. “[…] Anytime they would talk to me, it was just a boost in confidence. Maybe it doesn’t have the same effect now [to freshmen], but I’m just trying to do what I know helped me.”

According to Bukhalo a major goal for him this season is to qualify for state, since he didn’t qualify last year. In order to prepare for sectionals and state, Bukhalo states how he has been doing extra practice outside of school and working with club coaches.

“Last year we all had really tough draws, and we hope that this season we can do a lot better at state,” Bukhalo said. “Last year I didn’t qualify for state, I played the number one junior in my qualifying match. I hope to do a lot better during the season this year, so I won’t have to play such tough opponents to get into state.”

According to DesRoberts, the coaching staff has been having to create new partnerships due to players being out with injuries, but he doesn’t think that will hurt them against competitors.

“Even with unusual partnerships and positions [Faulkner] puts us in, we’ve come out on top, so I think it’s trusting in our teammates to get the job done,” DesRoberts said. “And there’s always been a lot of trust that goes into our team.”