Spirits high, men’s tennis set to make run at GNAC

by Evan Sporer / Beacon Staff • March 3, 2011

Will Abeles, temporary captain of the men’s tennis team, lost his first match of the season when Emerson played Wheaton College Saturday. But Abeles was not alone. Emerson lost all nine matches.

Abeles then returned to his dorm room in the Colonial and blogged.

The entry, entitled “How to Really Win in Tennis,” showed Abeles’ lighthearted response to the match and what he learned from it. Despite losing their first match of the season 9-0, it is this type of mentality that Emerson’s tennis players said they hope to use to put themselves over the edge.

Abeles, who performs stand-up comedy in his free time, outlined five steps to win the match in your head.

His message and objective was clear — to keep team morale high. He did this with suggestions like “look at the positives” and “act like you don’t care/have fun with it.”

Numerous times throughout his match, Abeles said Astley helped him remain upbeat despite falling behind.

After losing in two consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference finals, the Lions are poised to capture a title this season, Abeles said. Emerson lost only two players and is experiencing a similar start to last year.

“Usually we play [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] first and they smoke us,” said Abeles, a studio television production major, about his competitors, who began playing a month earlier than the Lions.

The uneven final score aside, head coach Mason Astley said he thought his team did many things right, and hopes the match points out what level his team should be playing at.

Abeles said he found plenty to be happy about in his singles loss (6-1, 6-0) and doubles defeat (8-0).

“Despite only winning one game in all my match play, I still feel like I won,” wrote Abeles on his blog. “And now I share with you how to truly win your tennis match.” Follow these steps, and, according to Abeles, any player will have something to write about in his or her blog later.

One of his more interesting suggestions came with his comment, “Show a little skin.” It referenced the senior’s ability to steal a look from a female in the crowd whom his opponent was attempting to woo.

“I caught her eye, and she looked away once, which is all I need to get my confidence back up after losing to a freshman 6-1, 6-0,” Abeles blogged.

Attitude and confidence is something the men’s tennis team has preached this season with the help of Matan Lushkov, a guidance student in the sports psychology department of Boston College. Abeles said Lushkov has been assisting the team since 2008. After every match, players fill out a post-game survey, outlining what they did well, and what they need to improve on.

“In tennis, you’re already levelheaded, or you need to do something to stay positive,” Abeles said. “I try to keep my team positive. There was a freshman playing his first collegiate game on the court next to me, so I yelled stuff at him to try to keep him loose.”

Ken Nikravesh, a junior jazz composition major at Berklee College of Music, plays for Emerson through the ProArts Consortium and reflected Abeles’ attitude.

“Overall, spirits are still high,” said Nikravesh who played first singles and doubles for the Lions Saturday. “There are many positives to take away.”

Both Astley and Abeles agreed, and cited the team’s ability to grow as a major determinant in where it will finish.

Because the season is so young, many things are unknown, and the competition is still a mystery, said Astley.

“Everything depends on the strength of the other teams,” Astley said. “The real question is how much are we going to improve.”

Tennis will take the court for its second match of the season tonight at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at 7 p.m. in Cambridge.