After a long road trip, the men’s tennis team will return to the courts Wednesday to play their cross-town rivals, Southern Methodist University.
Currently 2-7, the match against SMU will be a welcome relief to a team that played seven of its first nine matches on the road.
Early in the year, head coach Dave Borelli said that he anticipated a tough start to the season due to the number of away games and highly-ranked opponents. At the time, Borelli said he hoped the quality competition would help his young team mature.
Of the teams TCU has played, four are among the top 25 teams in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s rankings.
TCU is currently ranked No. 43 in the country after beginning the season at No. 33.
Freshman Slah Mbarek said he thinks the team is better than its record. He said having played the top competition in the nation will help the team in the long run.
“Playing teams at that level lets you know your weaknesses and what to work on,” Mbarek said. “If you win, then it gives you a lot of confidence.”
A bright note to the season so far has been the team’s play in doubles, where they have won six in a row against some of the nation’s stiffest competition. Sophomore Emanuel Brighiu and junior Adrian Simon are currently ranked as the No. 14 doubles pairing in the country.
“I said at the beginning of the year we’d be one of the better teams in the country and I think we’ve proven that point,” Borelli said. “We just need to get a little bit more out of our depth and I think that’s what hurt us.”
The match against SMU marks a turning point in the season. After spending much time on the road, TCU will play its next eight matches at home.
Sophomore Zach Nichols said the team is excited now that they have an opportunity to come home and apply what they have learned.
“It’s a big match for us,” Nichols said. “We’ve been struggling and we’re looking to turn it around and luckily, it just happens to be against our cross-town rival.”
Borelli said that the team will try and use the SMU match as a springboard for success.
“It’s a long year, there are peaks and valleys,” Borelli said. “I think now is an opportunity for our guys to turn it around and see what they can do.”