Sophomores taking on leadership roles for UA tennis
After last season’s disappointing 5-18 record, the Arizona men’s tennis team is ready to leave last year behind. Led this year by returning players like sophomores Sumeet Shinde and Carlos Bermudez,The Wildcats believe they have the talent necessary to become contenders in a competitive Pac-12 Conference.
“Sumeet and Carlos had valuable experience last year playing in the mid portion of the lineup,” head coach Tad Berkowitz said. “I think the length of the season got to them a little bit last year, but this year the guys really have an understanding of the level they can compete at.”
“We have a lot of great guys with good potential like Sumeet and Carlos,” undergraduate assistant Frank Chen added. “We should do better this year.”
Despite the depth of the Wildcat lineup this year, the team is still looking to improve and not taking anything for granted.
“We still don’t have a really strong number one player,” Chen said. “The most important thing is doubles. If we could get more double points, we will be able to win more dual matches.”
Shinde attended high school in Pune, India, and not only established himself as one of the top tennis players in India, but was also ranked 70th in the world amongst juniors. He has competed at both the US and Australian Opens and won an ITF G2 International Tennis Tournament.
Shinde recognizes how much Arizona struggled last season, but he believes his playing experience as a freshman should help him bounce back this time around.
“This year I feel like we are more experienced than last year.” Shinde said. “We will be better because of our experiences last year and our ability to learn from them.”
Shinde compiled an inconsistent record of 7-12 last year and now looks to bounce back and improve.
“My whole last year was up, down, up, down.” Shinde said. “Last year I had a couple good matches and then a few bad matches. Consistency is what I’m looking to improve on this year.”
Bermudez joined Arizona last year after being named team captain at Palo Verde Magnet High School the three years before, winning three state championships and earning MVP honors twice.
“I don’t think we did that great [last season] but we had little to no experience,” Bermudez said,. “I think last year was all about us getting used to all of our teammates and maturing and working as a team. I think we all matured lot.”
Bermudez agrees with Chen that the Wildcats’ play in doubles is lacking.
“We need to work on our doubles game.” Bermudez said. “During the fall we are going to practice our doubles and touch up on it. It is going to be one of our biggest priorities.”