September 16, 2013
Following the graduation of three top seniors, one might expect the Hamilton men’s tennis team to treat 2013 as a transition season. Theoretically, that might consist of a softer schedule, as a means of giving young players experience without compromising the team’s record.
However, the Continentals adopted the exact opposite mindset this past weekend, playing arguably one of their toughest tournaments all year as a season-opener. The Stony Brook Invitational consisted of several Division I teams, including Hofstra University and Quinnipiac University. Facing long odds, Hamilton came through with a single victory in five matches, a win by the doubles pairing of Austin Lokre ’16 and Max McKee-Proctor ’17.
Despite the results, Head Coach Rob Barr is hopeful for continual improvement over the course of the fall. If the early portion of the season is about gaining experience, playing elite competition can only bolster the Conts for the rest of the year.
“We knew this weekend was going to be tough in terms of putting up wins,” admitted Coach Barr. “The goal was really to compete as well as we could, trying to help our young players work on their game against competition that’s probably better than what we’ll face the rest of the season.”
And yet, even with this mantra, the weekend’s lone win was of considerable importance, given the youth of the Lokre-McKee-Proctor pairing. McKee-Proctor echoed this sentiment, noting that 2013 will set the foundation for the team’s near future.
“I’m really excited about this season, and especially the seasons to come, since we have such a young team that is only going to improve as we go on,” said McKee-Proctor. “Personally, I would love to rack up as many wins with Austin as I can at doubles. We are a very solid pairing and I think that we can prove to be one of the stronger and more dependable aspects of the team.”
Moreover, the first-year noted how the humble expectations going into the weekend allowed the duo to play more freely, a mindset which allowed the Continentals to salvage some tangible results. “Of course, I also hope that wins come with that improvement,” added McKee-Proctor. “This weekend Austin and I came out onto the court fired up, but one of the advantages that we had coming in as a Division III school was that we weren’t nervous about the tournament. Austin and I decided that we were going to be intense on the court and fight for every point, but that ultimately we should just have fun and if we ended up playing well and getting a win, then that’s all the better. I think that attitude was really what allowed us to play as consistently as we did and end up victorious.”
That the Continentals did not fare particularly well this weekend is of secondary concern. Their next tournament, the St. Lawrence Fall Classic, should be one that bears more fruit in terms of wins. If Hamilton’s youngest players continue to perform consistently alongside the more seasoned players when the pressure is on, the team’s promise of a stronger future may arrive sooner than expected.
Looking forward to the rest of the fall season, Lokre says, “The fall season’s primary purpose is to get better individually and as a team.” The Continentals have five more tournaments this fall, finishing up in just three weeks with a tournament at Elmira College, taking on their hosts and Alfred University.