Nine matches into his second season, tennis head coach Aaron Bergeron continues to lead the men’s and women’s tennis programs to more success than it had in any of the previous four seasons.
Both teams have a 6-3 record so far this season. The women’s team had not surpassed six wins before this season and since the tennis program entered into the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference in 2014. The men’s team also reached six wins for the first time this year. Last season, the women’s team won two conference games for the first time in program history with victories over Smith College and Clark University. The men’s team looks to secure a conference win this season for the first time.
Both teams played four matches in Orlando, Florida over spring break. The women’s team finished 3-1 with victories over King’s College, DeSales University, and Alvernia University, and a loss to the State University of New York at Oneonta. The men’s team went 2-2, also beating King’s College and DeSales, but lost the final two matches against Otterbein University and SUNY Oneonta.
The women’s team ranks seventh out of nine other college tennis programs in the NEWMAC preseason coaches poll, ahead of Clark and the United States Coast Guard Academy.
Bergeron said he looks forward to having five junior players complement the younger talent on the women’s team.
“Our core group of veterans are all juniors now, so we have the experience,” Bergeron said. “We brought in a couple freshman with a lot of talent who are able to help us as well, so it’s been a perfect storm. I expect we’ll have a strong season even in comparison to last year.”
Freshman Thea Nagle said the relationship between players continues to grow despite tennis focusing more on individual talent than other sports.
“In the fall, we didn’t really know each other, so our team dynamic wasn’t as strong,” Nagle said. “By the end of the fall season, we got more comfortable with each other and everyone is more excited for the spring season. Even though tennis is an individual sport, you still compete with your team, and it’s still team–oriented, so it’s important to have that team dynamic.”
Nagle said junior captains Alisha Parikh and Sabrina Jacobs take good care of the players by providing them with team building activities.
“I absolutely love my captains, and you can tell the rest of the team does, too,” Nagle said. “They create their own conditioning days and hear our input on what we want to do for our training days. They do a really good job with checking in on us and seeing if we have concerns, and they actually bring those concerns to [Bergeron]. It shows that they respect us and care about us.”
The men’s team finished last season with a 2-15 record, but it has already surpassed last year’s wins with a 6-3 record halfway through this season. The team ranks seventh on the NEWMAC preseason coaches poll, but Bergeron said the Lions will improve this season.
“This is my second year, but the team I came into and the team we have now, chemistry wise, is so different,” Bergeron said. “The culture is fun—it’s exciting to be around. We have brought in a couple of guys that are helping with the talent, but the biggest piece is the cohesion. We have a bunch of guys that are committed to the team getting better.”
Freshmen Bass Lin and Maximo Lawlor have wasted no time in contributing to the team during their first season. Lin and Lawlor, the No. 1 and No. 2 options on the team, have not lost a singles match in any of their games this season while facing the top players on the opposing teams.
Junior Brock Higley said Lin and Lawlor have Division I talent despite playing at a Division III level at Emerson. He said one of Bergeron’s best strengths is recruiting.
“We’re a much different team than we were two or three years ago,” Higley said. “The coaching staff is completely different. [Coach] Bergeron’s ability to recruit has been something that Emerson has never seen before.”
Bergeron said he prioritizes recruiting to improve the men’s and women’s tennis programs season after season.
“I try really hard to consistently put the correct amount of time in recruiting. That way we can ensure that we’re building,” Bergeron said. “You miss one recruiting class, and you’re behind again. The goal is never to be [behind] and to always keep building.”
The men’s team will play against UMass Boston on March 16 before beginning conference play at Clark University on April 3. The women’s team will play against Regis College on March 22 and open conference play on March 26 against Babson College.