After starting the season as the 11th ranked men’s tennis program in the nation, recent struggles have left the Hurricanes in a not-so-favorable position.
After starting the season 4-1 with wins against North Florida, Stetson, USF and UCF and a lone loss to Wisconsin, the Hurricanes did something nobody expected: They dropped three straight at the USTA/ITA Indoor Nationals to No. 6 UCLA, No. 14 Oklahoma State and Stanford, leaving them 4-4 on the season.
The recent struggles have affected every player on the men’s tennis squad, and every player suffered at least one single’s loss in the three-game skid. During this time, only Luigi D’Agord and Josh Cohen were able to win two of their three matches, while Daniel Vallverdu and Vivek Subramanian were only able to salvage one win each.
Additionally, during this time, Vallverdu and Subramanian were the only pair who swept the competition, winning all three of their doubles matches, while the pair of D’Agord and Cohen was able to grab one win in three tries.
The recent shortcomings, after a strong start to the season, came when the Hurricanes began one of the tougher stretches of their schedule. The losses will hopefully serve as a wakeup call for the team, showing them that they need to play at a higher level to be able to compete with the tough competition that awaits.
The good thing for the Hurricanes is that seniors D’Agord and Cohen should be able to provide their teammates with veteran leadership. Couple this with the fact that half of the lineup features young but talented players and the Hurricanes should be able to bounce back and carry on with their early season success, putting recent struggles behind them.
The road for the Hurricanes, though, will not be easy, as seven of their 14 remaining opponents are currently ranked higher than the No. 26 Hurricanes, based on the results through Sunday, Feb. 11. Additionally, four of the remaining seven teams are top 50 teams and are capable of jumping the ‘Canes when the new rankings come out.
Although rankings are not full-and-final, they do hold some weight, showing that the Hurricanes will have an uphill battle if they want to exceed the success of last year’s squad.
The next four matches for the Hurricanes should provide everyone with a comprehensive idea about how the team will fare this season, as the team is set to face No. 12 Florida State, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 8 Florida and No. 23 Clemson.
If the Hurricanes hope to see success, the team will have to see consistent play from D’Agord, Vallverdu, Cohen and Subramanian and better play from Hector Nieto, Barnabas Carrega and J. C. Whitner.
The road is tough, but the talent is there. The vision might be temporarily blurred, but the goal is clear: WIN!
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.