SAN ANTONIO – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros men’s tennis team will get its first taste of competition in the fall season Friday through Sunday at the Roadrunner Invitational.
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) sanctioned tournament features some of the top teams in the country, including Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Miami, SMU and Oklahoma State and other competitive teams the Vaqueros face regularly, like Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Incarnate Word and host UTSA. Action begins at 8:30 am Friday at the UTSA Tennis Center. Tournament draws and schedules will be available at a later time and updated here.
“I expect to see really good focus and good energy. We’ve put in a lot of really hard work and I think we’re going to see that come out,” head coach Nathan Robinson said. “This tournament is a tough one. UTSA has put together one heck of a tournament and there’s going to be some good players and a lot of competitive tennis. Our guys are really excited. It’ll be a good chance for us to get a feel of where we are and set that first bar for ourselves.”
Junior Emilien Burnel is one of four newcomers eager to make his UTRGV debut at the Roadrunner Invitational, along with fellow transfer sophomore Carlo Krolo and first-time collegiate competitors sophomore Born Devald and freshman Agustin Salazar. It’s going to be a little different playing in the Texas heat compared to what Burnel is used to, but he feels up for the challenge and is ready to give the Vaqueros a look at what he brings to the squad.
“This will be the first time I’m going to be playing in hot weather, so I’m going to have to adapt. But we’ve been training hard for a few weeks now so hopefully I’m ready for it,” Burnell said. “My serve is one of my best weapons, also my forehand and I like to dropshot, too. I’ll try to use those skills the best I can. I think all the team is ready to compete hard and give their best.”
As the fall season gets into full swing starting with the Roadrunner Invitational, the Vaqueros will focus on growth and finding their strengths and what areas they’ll need to work on over the course of the season.
“All those new guys, we’re super excited to see what they do. We want to see our returners continue to grow on what we’ve built from last year,” Robinson said. “Mr. Williams is in the best shape he’s ever been in. Chris Lawrence is hitting the ball well and Sam Whitehead is in a really good space mentally, so I think it’s going to be really fun to see those guys compete and see where we’re at and grow from there.”
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