Tough losses, still looking toward wins

Skylar To

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They have lost matches– close matches despite what the scoreboard reads.

Whether coming from an 8-1 loss, finishing games feels like a 5-4 loss for Suffolk University tennis captain Francesco Saia.

As a student athlete who devotes his college experience to his team, he looks toward the future of the program.

 

Courtesy of Suffolk Athletics

Courtesy of Suffolk Athletics

“Our game score doesn’t reflect our game performance,” said Saia in an interview with The Suffolk Journal. “Our record doesn’t speak for how good our team is.”

The tennis team has dropped eight of their last ten games of the season, a 2-8 record after Tuesday night’s loss versus Wheaton (Mass.). With two games left, the team will wrap up their season on Sat., April 23 at Norwich University.

“We look really strong, it’s just finishing every match, which is our struggle,” said Saia.

After switching court sides at every other game during a match, the 20-year-old finance major said the team uses the time to discuss mistakes made and approaches to fixing them heading into the next game.

“Whether you’re up three games or down a game, [the game] is still anyone’s match,” said Saia. “Once the team understands that, we’ll get a phenomenal outcome in every match. It’s the missing gem we need.”

The junior said the team does not dwell on the “tough losses” and have never been down on themselves as a team. They instead look at game takeaways to prepare and move on to the next match.

“It’s looking past points and not looking down at yourself in the game,” said Saia. “You have to move on and save your next point. That’s what we could take out of [losing games].”

Despite the 2-8 record, Saia thinks his team is in nice standing moving forward next season, especially in welcoming a new set of players to the team this season as four of six starters are serving their first year with the team.

“Time will tell,” said Saia. “With time will give us excellence, and with excellence will give us wins.”

Saia thinks the games played have helped the team as well as himself get a feel of what to expect in conference matches. In their first conference match of the season, the team lost 9-0 to Johnson & Wales University (RI).

Besides working on fighting for the “one inch to the finish line” to come out of games with wins, the mental part of the game can be challenging.

“The mental part is literally 85 percent and the rest is athleticism,” said Saia. “Almost everyone can get into shape, but it’s easy to run your head down in tennis; every shot matters.”

“If you make an error, you start getting streaky and you start getting down on yourself,” said Saia.

Saia, who played four singles and two doubles last season has advanced to playing one doubles and two singles this season. The first-year captain admitted this season has been a learning experience, such as taking accountability in mistakes made to lead a team. His goal is to manage scheduling and timing better for the group and to help mentally prepare his team for matches by being vocal through speeches and pep talks.

I’m proud of myself in working hard in the season,” said Saia. “I knew I had to pick it up with the captain and leadership weight on my shoulders. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone on the team by not providing for the team.”

Saia, who is humble to serve as captain, said his best interest is to help the team out by giving advice to his teammates to help the group advance to the next level and next match. He does not think of himself any better than the next person, and hopes his teammates do not take his advice the wrong way when he suggests what players can do better.

“As a leader, I want to provide for my team in every way possible that I can,” he said.

In the summer, Saia will practice four times a week with a private coach to work on footwork and the “little things.” He will continue playing tennis in the fall to prepare for next season. As a diverse group of student-athletes, he hopes his teammates will be doing the same in different parts of the world to help bring the team to the next level.

“If you don’t play for a week, you’re back to square one,” he said. “You have to continue having the consistency and playing the sport. You realize what you need to work on and set out to work on those things.”

With the precedent of providing for the team, Saia will come back next season with the goal of quenching his thirst—“to finish the drive in getting another championship title.”

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