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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Men’s tennis aiming to erase decade-long title drought

Senior+Shaurya+Sood+prepares+to+return+in+a+match+against+Merrimack+on+Jan.+28%2C+2023.
Peyton McKenzie
Senior Shaurya Sood prepares to return in a match against Merrimack on Jan. 28, 2023.

 It’s been a decade since Quinnipiac’s men’s tennis entered the MAAC, and it has yet to raise the conference trophy. This year’s squad is set on changing that.

“I think we have a team that can pull off winning the whole thing, but we have to put it together,” head coach Bryan Adinolfi said. “We’re not counting on it without working hard.”

Last year, Siena eliminated the Bobcats in a tight 4-3 MAAC semifinal. This season’s roster sports six returners and only three new additions. 

“I think that our returners are gonna bring us experience and the match toughness that we need,” Adinolfi said. “We’re very excited about the additions.”

The Bobcats were picked second in the MAAC Preseason Coaches Poll, bested by Fairfield. 

“I think this is the strongest team I have been a part of in my four years,” senior Shaurya Sood said.

It’s been a rocky start for Quinnipiac, though. As of publication, the Bobcats sit at 2-7 in non-conference matches, losing the last four meets in a row.

With the current line-up, Quinnipiac is not out of contention yet. 

Freshman Finn Burridge won four-straight matches, his first loss coming over the weekend against Army. 

“(Burridge) is fighting for the sixth spot, but definitely helping us on the doubles line-up with the big serve,” Adinolfi said of the Auckland, New Zealand, native. 

Burridge sits at 4-5 in doubles. For the past six meets, he’s been partnered with sophomore Csanad Nyaradi, after his previous partner — freshman Carlos Braun Simo — suffered a shoulder injury following the Jan. 28 meet at Yale. Simo has been out since, despite earning MAAC Player of the Week the same week.

The “secret weapon” of the team is UC Riverside graduate transfer Daniel Velek.

“He is great, very hard worker and a great competitor,” Adinolfi said. “At the No. 1 position, he’s making our team stronger because we believe he can win consistently.”

So far, the Sezimovo Usti, Czech Republic, native is 5-4 in singles.

“I play with (Velek) at No. 1 doubles,” Sood said. “He’s probably one of the best players this team has had, I would say.”

The graduate-senior doubles team has the same record of 5-4 in the season so far.

“(Velek) is pushing all the other guys down in the line-up, which is great,” Adinolfi said. 

At the No. 2 position, senior captain Ayato Arakaki has not had much success yet, sitting at 2-6 and losing the last four singles. He and senior Donovan Brown sit at the No. 3 spot in doubles, having played together for the past three years. 

When it comes to the doubles pairings, Adinolfi isn’t that worried. 

“I’ve seen us play really well and I’ve seen us get blown out,” Adinolfi said. “I think we just need to improve the fundamentals, like first-serve percentage and making returns. If we just hone those, I think that the pairings we have can win doubles points.”

Arakaki has been the backbone of Quinnipiac for the past two years, according to Adinolfi, who called him “a great leader and just a machine when it comes to working hard.”

Sood and Brown are both 3-6 in singles. Nyaradi sits at 2-7, but Adinolfi praises their experience and toughness nonetheless. 

Sophomore Gaurav Mootha has only made two appearances in the season so far, losing both of his matches in straight sets. 

“We lost a couple of matches that I feel like we could’ve won and we definitely have work to do,” Adinolfi said. 

The only player on the roster who has yet to make an appearance in the line-up is junior Yasha Laskin. 

“(Laskin) is a great teammate and works hard in practice,” Adinolfi said. “He’s fighting for the No. 6 singles spot, but we’re trying to go as full strength as we can. He’s right there for both singles and doubles, just hasn’t gotten into a match yet.”

Despite the rough few weeks, Adinolfi remains optimistic. He knows he has a close team and praised its great chemistry.

“Tennis is very difficult sometimes, mentally it can be very frustrating,” the second-year head coach said. “There’s no one else to blame except yourself and during matches you will see our guys supporting each other.”

As Adinolfi noted, a lot of times that kind of energy can make a difference and “the team that wants it more … definitely can make a difference between a win or loss.”

This year’s Bobcats are rich in foreign talent. Seven out of the nine players on the roster are international students.

Arakaki hails from Saitama, Japan. Sood and Mootha both come from India. Nyaradi is Hungarian and Simo is a Munich, Germany native.

“I think it’s such a positive thing,” Adinolfi said. “Some of the guys potentially have a different work ethic which is great to blend with everyone else.”

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