#TGW: Youth Being Served

Sept. 29, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

The season is still quite young and there is much to learn, but Georgia Tech men’s tennis coach Kenny Thorne already sees something in his squad that he likes after splitting his team last weekend between events in Atlanta and Tulsa.

“Our guys are not going to give up; I really like that about our team,” Thorne said after the four Yellow Jacket freshmen stayed in Atlanta to play in the Georgia Tech Invitational while veterans worked in Tulsa at the ITA All-American Championships.

“They’re going to be busting it up until the last point.”

Freshman Chris Eubanks won the singles title at the Invitational and teamed with fellow newcomer Michael Kay to capture the main doubles title. Out west, senior Eduardo Segura won three matches in the qualifying draw to highlight Tech’s work in Tulsa, where doubles work will come later in the week.

When half of your functional roster is comprised of newcomers, as Tech’s is, the coaching approach is a bit different than in most years.

So freshmen Eubanks, Kay, Daniel Yun and Elijah Melendez stayed in Atlanta, and Segura, Carlos Benito, Cole Fiegel and Nathan Rakitt traveled (or will later this week).

“[The freshmen] got quite a few matches this weekend, and that’s one of the reasons they were here,” Thorne said after Eubanks went 4-0 at the Ken Byers Tennis Center. “This guaranteed them three or four matches, and they didn’t have to miss any school compared to the guys going out to Tulsa.

“Chris (Eubanks) went to school over the summer. He got a little bit of a feel for Georgia Tech, and I have taken freshmen out to Tulsa but I don’t like to do it too often. You miss too much school.”

The Jackets will next play Oct. 16-19 in the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional in Athens.

Between now and then, and beyond, Thorne and assistant coach Derek Schwandt will continue tweaking. The purpose of the schedule in the fall is different than in the spring, when ACC action will begin.

It is time to build.

“I know exactly what I want to do in their games, and it’s more about [players] becoming comfortable playing on a team,” Thorne said. “We’ve got so much to get done before spring. We’ve really only had a couple weeks of practice. Derek and I love the development side, adding things to these guys’ games.”

With Schwandt in Tulsa and Thorne in Atlanta, the Tech coaches witnessed development in the Tech freshmen, and in the team’s only senior — Sequra.

“Eduardo won three of four and picked and . . . really scrapped and is competing very well. Thorne reported. “He’s got a huge forehand, and a consistent, aggressive game. He’s just got to learn how to allow people to beat themselves sometimes.

“I liked how [Eubanks] and Michael played in doubles. They executed pretty poorly but found a way to win. That’s extremely important: when guys aren’t playing well . . . they have to learn that you don’t have to play great tennis to win. You just have to find a way to win on that particular day.”

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