Men’s tennis carving out identity

AU%27s+mens+tennis+coach+Christian+Hamilton+and+his+team+watch+the+final+game+in+a+match+against+Findlay+in+February.
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Men’s tennis carving out identity

AU's mens tennis coach Christian Hamilton and his team watch the final game in a match against Findlay in February.

AU's mens tennis coach Christian Hamilton and his team watch the final game in a match against Findlay in February.

ZACH READ

AU's mens tennis coach Christian Hamilton and his team watch the final game in a match against Findlay in February.

ZACH READ

ZACH READ

AU's mens tennis coach Christian Hamilton and his team watch the final game in a match against Findlay in February.

Steve Shrenkel

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The Ashland University men’s tennis team is beginning to carve out an identity for themselves
after winning their four straight matches in a row, defeating Walsh, Oberlin, Findlay and Ohio
Wesleyan.

Assistant tennis coach Christian Hamilton said that the player’s fighting spirit has been what has
really drove the team towards victory as of late.

“Every single player on our team has a fighting spirit and I think that’s what’s been giving us an
edge,” Hamilton said.

While the team is currently at an all-time high, the season didn’t exactly start out the way they
wanted it to.

The program was reinstated just last year after the program had been in limbo for nearly 25 years
with a match not being played since 1995.

For Hamilton, the reinstatement of the program really was a complement to the women’s tennis
team already in place, he said.

“The team has been great with being a complement to the women’s program,” Hamilton said.
“The women have kind of set the tone for expectations so the guys can see that too.”

Lexi Bolesky, the director of tennis operations, has really helped to kick start the program back
up, he said.

“We have a brilliant leader here in coach Lexi,” Hamilton said. “Her leadership has trickled
down to me which has trickled down to the players. There’s an expectation.”

Besides the leadership, the arrival of a certain freshman trio has also helped to kick the program
back into gear. That trio consists of freshmen Stuart Brdicka, Colton Clark and Jordan Phelps.

These three had already shared a very close bond before joining the AU men’s tennis team since
they all grew up near each other and played together at the Racquet Club of Columbus.

“We were excited heading into this season because we were able to get a core group of talented
freshman,” Hamilton said. “We had leaders who have already played from the get go. They are
hungry and fighters so we were excited to get them.”

Even though they had all grown up and played tennis together, chances were originally slim that
they would all end up back together again, Brdicka said.

“I honestly didn’t think that we’d all end up at the same university,” he said. “When we did, it
was really exciting for all of us.”

Each player of the trio had his own set of strengths that helped to bolster an already talented
roster, Hamilton said.

“Stu has a strong baseline game with great volleys and is always a weapon,” he said. “Colton has
some of the best hands I’ve seen in a player and is very scrappy. Jordan is a tall guy so he has the
ability to stretch the court.”

Even with expectations from the coaches high, the season didn’t start off on the right note, with
the team dropping their home opener 4-3 against Hillsdale. The Eagles only won one doubles
match, and earned all their points in singles play.

The opener was a very tough loss, Hamilton said.

“We knew that Hillsdale was going to be a tough team and a dog fight going in,” he said. “The
guys were ready

ZACH READ
A server for the men’s tennis team prepares to send one over the net.

to compete but it was a tough loss.”

The team was frustrated by the loss, but had to continue to look ahead, Clark said.

“The first match was frustrating but we were able to begin to settle in after that,” he said.

Even though Brdicka won both his singles and doubles matches against Hillsdale, he still tries to
learn from any mistakes he’s made, he said.

“I’m always trying to learn from my mistakes and figure out what I can do to be better whatever
the outcome is,” Brdicka said. “I want to make sure those mistakes don’t happen again no matter
what.”

After the Hillsdale loss, the Eagles quickly regrouped and earned their first win for the reborn
program with a 6-1 victory against Walsh. They won all their double matches and were led by
junior Priyank Soni who won a gritty doubles match with senior Stanislaw Grezlow while also
winning his match in the first singles slot.

Phelps and Brdicka also earned a 6-2 victory in the second doubles slot for that match.

The tennis team then earned their second straight win against the nationally-ranked Division III
Oberlin College, 6-1. Phelps and Brdicka won their No. 1 doubles match 6-3 while Clark also
cruised to victory in a 6-2, 6-1 win in the fifth singles slot.

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