The St. John’s University men’s tennis team is already on the right track, performing well at both the Farnsworth/Princeton Invitational and the USTA Men’s College Invitational these past two weekends.
Senior Vasko Mladenov, the top-seeded player on the team and No. 38 ranked player in the ITA Men’s Preseason Rankings, started the season by reaching the semifinals in each of the singles tournaments in the first two weekend of play. He lost narrowly to Yale’s John Huang in a third-set tiebreak at the Men’s College Invitational.
“When you’re the top player in the tournament, everybody is playing their best tennis. Every time they walk on the court the guy against him has nothing to lose because he’s better than them,” said head coach Eric Rebhuhn. “This guy from Yale just had a great day, you have to just take your hat off to the guy. You work on certain things and you move forward.”
Coming off a 17-9 season last year, Rebhuhn has begun this fall with a sense of reserved optimism.
“I would say the team is different,” said Coach Rebhuhn. “It’s still too early to see how the new group of kids will
make an impact. So far they’re doing well in their first two tournaments, but time will tell.”
Mladenov and two other seniors, Mike Lampa and Valentin Mahai, have all taken leadership roles this season.
“All three are expected to be huge contributors to the team,” said Coach Rebhuhn. “They’re expected to be great leaders. We had a successful season last year and they were apart of that, and we want to have a more successful season this year. I’m counting on them in a big way.”
Continuing a pattern seen in the 10-1 home record last season, the team looked comfortable at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows this weekend.
“It’s special,” Rebhuhn said of the National Tennis Center, which hosts professional tennis’ fourth grand slam, the U.S. Open every year. “The U.S. Open just ended two weeks ago, and it still has that carry over affect. The kids continue to love it. The venue is a great place to watch and just be apart of.”