Captain and number one singles player Tiago Fernandes patiently awaits a serve (image credit: SNHU Penmen)

While some students braved the frigid temperatures of the north for spring break, the SNHU men’s tennis team lounged pool-side under palm trees in the warm Florida air. They traveled to the sunshine state to compete in three challenging matches and receive top quality training from the country’s best tennis professionals in preparation for the Northeast-10 championships in April.

The Penmen spent the first two days of their trip at the Sanchez Tennis Academy, a nationally recognized elite tennis institution in Naples home to many premiere coaches and professional tennis players. Alongside three academy coaches, the Penmen underwent an advanced physical training regimen that tested their strength and endurance. Although the Penmen were not accustomed to this breed of physical training, it ultimately benefited their on-court performance.

Because of the advanced technicalities of the training, the Penmen showed great improvement in their performance during their matches. Bas Van Biezen (’20), for one, was the Penmen’s most victorious player, as he won four out of the six matches he competed in. Much of his success, he says, is from the training. He and his fellow teammates are now in peak shape and ready to fight in their upcoming NE10 matches.

The Penmen fought difficult competitors in the sunshine state. They played Florida Southern University, Flagler College and Palm Beach Atlantic University, all of whom they lost to. Flagler College, whom they lost to 8-1, with Van Biezen picking up the lone win at 5th singles, is ranked number 19 in the country. Florida Southern, whom they lost to 7-2, and Palm Beach Atlantic, whom they also posted a 7-2 loss to, are ranked in the top 50.

“Even though all the matches were really tough overall, you can only personally improve and take away the good parts of the tennis,” said Van Biezen. “Playing against nationally ranked schools can only make you better. As a player, you have to get out of your comfort zone and give more than 100 percent to be competitive in the matches.”

Head Coach Greg Coache, who is in his eleventh year coaching the Penmen, feels good about his team’s performance in Florida, despite the tough losses. The games were, however, close in that they could have gone either way. Many players challenged their Floridian opponents in three sets, while others came up short in close sets. These matches, Coache said, “exemplify the talent the team has” and “demonstrate future success in NE10 action.”

“The men played their heart out this past week,” continued Coache. “We played tough competition but I feel good about where we stand. We’re currently ranked fourth in the NE10 but I can see that number increasing as the season goes along. I’m confident in my team and feel the trip has benefited all the players; the training really helped. We are really strong and are now focused on winning our third straight NE10 title.”

The Penmen return to action tomorrow, March 22, when they swing into NE10 competition against rival Adelphi at 3 p.m. at the YMCA in Goffstown.

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