Lofty Ambitions for Men’s Tennis

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Fordham’s men’s tennis team (above) will look to compete for an A-10 championship in the spring. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Robert Hagan, Contributing Writer

Last year, the Fordham men’s tennis team cracked into the top 100 teams in the nation and finished the shortened season with a win against perennial conference powerhouse University of Dayton. This year the team hopes to do even better. All of last year’s starters have returned, and the team has added two talented freshmen and two seasoned transfers to an already experienced roster. “I think we have the opportunity to crack the top four in the Atlantic 10 Conference and challenge the better-funded programs,” said coach Mike Sowter. “But only if we continue to work hard like we have in previous years.” Fordham is the only team in the A-10 that does not award athletic scholarships for men’s tennis, so recruiting blue-chip recruits is always challenging. Nevertheless, “this is one of the most physically disciplined teams I have ever coached, and hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” said Sowter. “We play with a chip on our shoulder; we out-work, out-hustle and out-grind our opponents, and this hunger to improve breeds success.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with the team’s plans. The fall tennis season has been scratched, and the team has had to cancel or modify spring matches with other universities due to travel restrictions. Fortunately, tennis is a naturally socially distanced sport, and the team has resumed practices. Apart from limitations with the weight room for strength and conditioning, few adjustments were needed for practice and training. The team has been able to sharpen and improve their skills, and it is focussed on getting ready for an ultra-competitive spring season.

Last year, the team had a great spring season, but they still believe that improvements can be made this year. “I hope the new players will get well integrated into the team,” said graduate student Fabian Mauritzon, “so that we can continue to have the same amazing atmosphere and competitive spirit which has made us a top contender in the A-10Conference.” 

Together the team’s upperclassmen are setting a pattern for the younger team members to follow. “We have a lot of time on our hands and can focus on developing something great,” stated senior Alex Makatsaria, “and I hope the team is able to take advantage of our ability to practice hard and have a strong start and even stronger finish to our spring season.”

Mauritzon and Makatsaria typify men’s tennis at Fordham. Mauritzon is returning as a fifth-year graduate student who hopes to parlay his Fordham tennis experience into a professional tennis circuit career. In contrast,  Makatsaria hopes to establish a legacy that outlasts him at Fordham. Both started playing competitive tennis as children and competed nationally in their native lands as teenagers.