Over the weekend U of L hosted the Louisville Invitational for men’s tennis. Fourteen schools including U of L competed in the singles tournament and doubles tournament. Louisville Head Coach Rex Ecarma utilized the opportunity to introduce his freshman class to NCAA Division I tennis.
“It’s a fun event, and what makes it even more fun is I am just showing my freshman class,” Ecarma said. “I am letting them be the center of the stage right now so for the fans this is a great time to see the future of our program.”
Ecarma’s roster is made up of two seniors, one junior, three sophomores and six freshmen. The youth filled roster is due in large part to the graduation of Louisville’s five seniors that carried the team to its 23-9 overall record a season ago.
“I’m finally emotionally getting over it,” Ecarma said jokingly.
All joking aside, Ecarma has no time to ease his freshman class into collegiate play. The six freshmen: George Hedley, Brandon Lancaster, Christopher Morin-Kougoucheff, Michael Quang and Brian Tsao represented U of L in the invitational while the older guys cheered them on. The experience is invaluable as ACC play is just months away.
“Some of these guys have got to be starters,” Ecarma explained. “I only have two seniors. I have one guy with ACC singles experience in Alex Gornet. They’ve got to play. This can’t be a time for them to come and develop and kind of play a little bit. No, some of these freshman have got to start on the team this year and play in the ACC.”
“They completely realize it,” Ecarma continues. “They realize that they’re freshman class outnumbers everyone else so numerically they’ve got to play.”
With the team season starting in January, Ecarma spoke of the advantages of playing them in the invitational.
“They’re learning to play at home for the first time, and they’re playing through some nerves,” Ecarma said. “I could tell there was a lot of nervous energy out there to start. You could see it in Kougoucheff’s first match. There were a lot of nerves for him to grind through. They are just kind of getting over the nerves of beginning their college careers with a lot of expectations and a tradition to uphold.”
For the six freshmen, the Louisville Invitational was their momentous first competition in the four-year journey to come.