LSU men's tennis (7-1) had the chance to enter conference play with a perfect record if they could defeat their strong in-state rivals in Tulane (6-2) on February 7. But despite carrying a lot of momentum into the match after upsetting Texas Tech in their previous match, they fell short and suffered their first loss of the season.
A big worry with any young, talented team is that they may show flashes, but those flashes are often inconsistent and deceiving. In LSU’s case, it could take a while for a lot of the freshmen on this team to maintain their momentum from match to match.
But the true difference between the match against previously ranked Texas Tech and the match against Tulane was the attitude they brought to the table, according to Coach Chris Brandi. Going up against a top-25 foe, the Tigers had something to prove, and that attitude lit a fire under the team that the Red Raiders couldn’t put out.
If they had carried that attitude into their next match, they likely would have won it.
“We played very ‘play-to-win' [against Texas Tech],” Brandi said. “[Then] they didn’t get overconfident, but I think they played like we had to protect something [against Tulane] even though honestly, Tulane, on paper, is better than us.”
The Green Wave have given the Tigers trouble over the years, and LSU should’ve understood the challenge that they faced. But they lost focus in a match that would have given them revenge over a team that defeated them last season.
“They have done better than us the last few years and they’ve beaten us two years in a row,” Brandi said.
Brandi also mentioned the fact that the Tigers won Courts One and Two in singles, which was a big deal because both of those players are ranked. However, the inconsistencies in the team showed up on the remaining courts.
Three true freshmen (Tom Pisane, Joao Graca, and Benjamin Ambrosio) are featured in the starting singles lineup for the Tigers, and they showed their inexperience against Tulane with some demoralizing losses. Despite that, Brandi believes in the lineup and will not change it in the near future.
“They’re very young and I think they showed their inconsistencies last week,” Brandi said. “But I think this will probably be our lineup for at least the short-term.”
A young team like this is bound to have a few hiccups throughout the season, but a hard-fought loss against a strong team like Tulane isn’t one to lose confidence over. The Tigers will have a chance to bounce back entering conference play, where they will face an evenly matched team in Vanderbilt (4-1) in what should be a great match.