Tiger men’s tennis final push

The Tiger Men’s tennis team stands united for the final stretch of the season.


Andrew Duong

Double team of senior Cameron Goldstein and first-year Aashish Dhanani

Brotherhood. This is the word that defines the relationship between Trinity men’s tennis teammates, according to many of its athletes and coaches. Cameron Goldstein, senior economics major, described the team atmosphere as something that results in close connections both during and outside of practices.

“It’s something we’ve tried to build on. We are all good tennis players, we can all go out and hit the ball. But at the beginning of the season that is what we are lacking, that team spirit, the comradery, that kind of brotherhood that you build just naturally when you spend a lot of time together,” Goldstein said, “It did take a little bit of time, but as our season progressed further we grew closer and honestly just became brothers on the court. We’re not just hitting each other, we‘re practicing with our brothers, our best friends.”

This close connection has driven each team member to push themselves harder both during practices and, most recently, through competitions. During each match, every player expressed an attitude of grit and continued determination. Head coach Russell McMindes expressed his pride in the team, especially in a recent game against the Californian Institute of Technology (Caltech) Beavers who ranked 13th in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division III men’s tennis. McMindes said the team’s character showed through during this game.

“What we have seen since the back half of our California trips is just the team energy had improved as a whole unit. The enthusiasm they played on the court as well as the guys off the court, just the whole team’s camaraderie and team morale have been at a much higher level,” McMindes said. “In this match against Caltech, was probably the highest it’s been all year as it was a dramatic match. … I love the grit we showed in doubles as well as playing courageously. When players are down, they tend to get a little careful with taking chances. The players didn’t do that, they stayed after it and played a good aggressive brand of tennis.”

One such example McMindes gave during the match against Caltech was the performance by Connor Whittington. Whittington, sophomore economics major, made a comeback from a three-point deficit in the third set to clinch a win. Whittington said that the only thing going through his mind was to keep the game going.

“At the time I was just trying to stay on the court for as long as I could, so I could help my teammate Rafa just have a guy playing next to him while just keeping the score in Trinity’s favor,” Whittington said.

His thoughts were shared with his coworker, assistant coach Wilson Hamilton, who also congratulated the team on their performance during the game against Caltech. Hamilton describes this in a mid-match interview against Caltech.

“We knew this would be a very difficult match before the match even started, as Caltech is a very good team. I think we’re doing a good job of keeping the energy high. The players are playing well, they believe in one another as well as themselves,” Hamilton said.

Looking past their game, many on the team expressed their commitment to improving their game alongside their brothers. Doubles partners Hao Nguyen, senior business analytics and technology major, and Eric Liao, sophomore computer science major, are one such example.

Named the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference’s (SCAC’s) double team of the week for week eight, the two finished their game with a 8-7 win against their Caltech counterparts. Nguyen said that the duo as well as the rest of the team aims to continue their momentum from past wins.

“I think the idea at the moment is to keep with the consistency that we have been doing. We’ve been playing with a lot of high energy, we’ve played the last few matches against ranked opponents and we got a W against all of them. I just think we need to ride the momentum,” Nguyen said.

Liao agrees with his partner and continues to emphasize that the pair aims to improve their game for the future. More specifically, Liao said that the pair aims to reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA as well as earn Trinity the SCAC championship.

“I think what we can work on improving is our confidence on the doubles court because we realize that if we are confident on the court, especially with our movement in doubles, we can win a lot more. Our goal is to win more than SCAC, we hope to go on to NCAA and a pretty big goal is to reach the Elite Eight,” Liao said.

With the team united under their goal, the Tigers look to finish the season strong together. Through the rest of the season, to SCAC and finally the NCAA, the Tigers will continue to practice and win as teammates and as brothers. Their next match will be against Southwestern University in Georgetown on Friday, April 14. Their next home game will be on Saturday, April 15 against UC Santa Cruz.