“Two years ago, when we went to Nationals, we were like, ‘Let’s make the Gold Bracket,’ which means you win your bracket, which means you finish top 16,” French said.
“We had this really, really close match with Santa Barbara in our pool play, and we won in a super-tie break. We almost didn’t even make the Gold Bracket that year. We played Florida in the quarterfinals, and Florida is really good every year. We ended up winning, so we actually ended up getting third two years ago, which was really cool, because we didn’t expect to do that well. Last year, we made it to the finals, and we lost to Auburn in a super-tie break. It was like ‘We still did better than last year!’”
Nationals will be held in Orlando for the first time this year, French said. This marks a change from past years of alternating between Cary, North Carolina, and Surprise, Arizona.
Although the team has around 100 members officially, only seven are going to Nationals, French said.
“In total, we have about 100 members, and we have a non-mandatory policy,” she said. “So, there’s only like 35 to 40 people that actually go to tournaments and come to practice and stuff like that. But it’s nice that we can take a lot of people on the team.”
Pinosky said his favorite part of playing club tennis was the team aspect.
“Tennis is usually a single sport, but everyone’s best friends on the team,” he said.
Tournaments offer unique bonding experiences for the team, another team member Connor Cooke, said.
“Last weekend, we watched the Final Four game at a beach house at Virginia Beach,” Cooke said. “There were like 14 of us, so it was a great atmosphere. You get to know what everybody does outside of tennis, and it’s just a good family to be a part of.”
Holleman Hughes, a first-year undecided major going to the competition, said he was proud of the team.
“We got really close last year to winning Nationals; hopefully we can do something similar this year,” he said. “I’m just really happy that I’ve made such good friends on the team and that I’ve been able to be on the A-team, going to Nationals as a freshman, it’s really great.”