The University of Dayton men’s tennis team will open its season Friday, Sept. 21, through Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Wright State Invitational in Dayton. Only the Flyers will do it with one big component still missing, a head coach.
The head coach situation for both the men and women’s teams is the biggest storyline heading into this season. According to Angie Russell, the director of business and student services for the university athletic department, both of the squads enter the season without a head coach after the previous head coach, Eric Mahone, left the program in August due to undisclosed personal reasons.
Currently, according to Russell, the team is in the process of interviewing candidates for the vacant position after doing a nationwide search, and said they should have a coach in place within two weeks. She said she is pleased with the candidates thus far, saying they have “a very diverse group, with strong winning traditions.”
In the meantime, the UD tennis program has been led by Russell, as well as recently hired assistant coach Leah Hottois.
According to Russell, the two have been splitting their time evenly between the two programs, and thus far the praise has been high for the new assistant from players.
“She’s doing a good job so far,” junior Andrew Hanley said. “She’s got us in shape, and she’s definitely got us on a very good schedule so far.”
Despite the rapid change in the coaching situation, Hottois is taking the whole thing in stride.
“I’m still getting to know the players,” Hottois said. “Other than that, there hasn’t been much of a transition. I haven’t had any issues right now.”
Leading the Flyers this season will be the lone senior on the roster, Robert Salcedo. According to both Russell and Hottois, Salcedo has been doing a great job leading the team while the coaching situation is being resolved.
“It’s been great having Robert,” Hottois said. “He is a good role model, and is very motivated. He is good both on and off the court.”
In addition to Salcedo, a player looking to have a breakout year is sophomore Aidan Koross, according to Hottois. Koross was one of two players to finish with a .500 or better singles record last spring season. However, Hottois said that the whole lineup is continuing to improve as the season nears.
Heading into this season, the Flyers have set two main goals for the tennis program, according to Salcedo. They include having a winning record as a team as well as finishing in the top four in the conference. Salcedo said he believes this team has the talent to accomplish these goals.
“We’re a very talented team,” Salcedo said. “Talent’s never been an issue with us. It’s just all about putting it together at the right time, putting it together as a team once conference starts.”
The Flyers will begin the season at the Wright State Invitational this weekend. According to Hanley, one of the best teams they will face will be the host Raiders, but UD is looking to finish as a top three to four team overall.
“I think everyone expects to do very well,” Hanley said. “A lot guys want to win their flight. The first invitational is to see how everyone is playing really.”
As for Hottois, she is excited to coach her first tennis action with the men’s team.
“It’s exciting,” Hottois said. “It’s my first tournament with them, I just want them to work hard and win some tennis matches.”
As far as the rest of the season goes, Salcedo is elated at the possibilities of what is to come.
“I think we’re going to have our best season in a few years,” Salcedo said. “I’m excited.”