BYU men’s tennis team stays busy during offseason

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Keaton Cullimore takes a swing last season. Cullimore, now a senior, will be one of BYU's leaders this season. (Gianluca Cuestas)
Keaton Cullimore takes a swing during a match, now a senior, Cullimore will be one of BYU’s leaders this season. (Gianluca Cuestas)

The tennis season is still four months away, but the BYU men’s tennis team is staying busy during its offseason.

The team is working to achieve its goal of becoming a ranked team and West Coast Conference Champions.

This is a lofty goals, but the team is already hard at work.

The Cougars started the offseason by hosting their first fall tournament, the Utah Fall Tennis Classic. Fall tournaments like this benefit each player on the team, especially the freshmen and returned missionaries, according to head coach Brad Pearce.

“The fall is especially important for them to get back into condition physically and get their stamina back,” Pearce said. “I think it’s great for the freshmen to get match experience at a collegiate level. The fall will be great to have this period to work into things.”

While physical stamina is important, mental stamina is also crucial.

The team plans to stay focused and have great energy and intensity throughout practice as team members push each other to the best of their abilities.

“There’s no substitute for hard work,” Pearce said. “They need to work at a high intensity level and towards specific goals.”

The coaches prepared a program to motivate the team in wanting to come to practice, according to assistant coach Matt Cowley. Pearce and Cowley want the team to be able to play tennis at their highest level and peak toward the end of the season.

Cowley said he is devoted to putting in extra time to help each player consistently improve and develop his game.

“I want to do everything I can to prepare the team with team practices and individual lessons, extra time on the court, and helping each player develop their strength and what they do best,” Cowley said.

Not only will the team be practicing on the court and competing in tournaments, but members will also be working on their strength and conditioning. The team will also look to gain a mental edge by meeting with BYU sports psychologist Craig Manning to help deal with in-game pressure.

The coaches don’t expect to win every match. They want their players to gain experience and learn from each match on what they can improve on.

“The desire to succeed is greater than the fear of losing a match,” Cowley said. “These matches will prepare them for the season and these tournaments.”

The four seniors are expected to be an example by showing the freshmen how to fight and compete for every point until the end.

The seniors, including Bourgeois, will also lead the team in fall practices and give off a positive vibe for the newcomers.

Jeremy Bourgeois hitting a serve in the Utah Fall Classic. (Gian Luca Cuestas)
Jeremy Bourgeois hitting a serve in the Utah Fall Classic. Bourgeois is one of four seniors on the roster. (Gianluca Cuestas)

“We’re going to create a good team atmosphere that everyone works hard, everyone is committed, everyone buys into the team philosophy so that hopefully they’ll (freshmen) make an impact as well this season,” Bourgeois said.

Senior Keaton Cullimore echoed Bourgeois in bringing good energy and creating a good team atmosphere.

“We have a goal to have good energy at the team practices and to be positive,” Cullimore said. “I hope we can impact them and hopefully show them how to be mentally tough as well.”

Pearce looks forward to how each player will impact the team. The mix of veterans and young bloods on the team will infuse a good energy and commitment into a strong team dynamic. Cowley said it’s what BYU is all about.

“This is Cougar tennis,” Cowley said.