They almost didn’t get to play this season; but with interim coach, Chris White, and leadership from lone Senior Andrew Narciso and a slue of junior talent that will hope to carry on the program next season, Bridgewater State’s men’s tennis program is competing yet again in the Little East Conference this season.
Narciso is returning to the tennis program after a two-year hiatus. The senior had been a part of a much more successful program in his freshman season in 2013. That year’s team saw more than 20 tryout participants, with last season only seeing seven.
“It’s a lot of responsibility being the captain of this team, especially with a new coach,” said Narciso. “I’ve had to take a lot of responsibility, not just reaching out to interested players but trying to organize practices prior to the hiring of coach.”
Of the seven teams competing in the LEC, the Bears are on the bottom of the list with 27 votes, according to a preseason poll hosted by the LEC and voted on by head coaches.
Southern Maine, who BSU shared their lone LEC Men’s Tennis tournament championship with in 2006, has taken the past two championships and are the unanimous pick among the coaches to take the 2016 crown.
In 2006, the Bears in their second year in the conference, went a perfect 9-0 on the year. They followed that effort in 2007 with another regular sea-son LEC championship at 5-1 and an 8-1 record overall.
“Tennis is kind of a forgotten sport at this school and my main goal going into this year was to fix that,” said Narciso. “Nothing has ever come easy to this team and the key to our success really is how much we want this.”
“If it wasn’t for coach White we probably wouldn’t of had a team this year,” said Narciso. “He’s doing the best he can but our juniors are leading this team. Without the efforts of Mike (Delisle), Matt (McGee) and Justin (Haley) we wouldn’t be anywhere.”
Justin Haley currently has the top record on the team at 3-2 (1-0 in the LEC), while the tandem of Haley and Chris Jastrab have gone 2-2. Delisle and McGee are also 2-2 as a pair this season.
Narciso has posted a 2-3 record on the year, but just a combined 1-3 as a part of a doubles team.
“I’m proud to be captain of these guys, I have never met a group of more intense guys who want this to be the best season this program has seen in awhile, not for any coach, but for each other.”
As the thick of the schedule is coming into play, BSU will need to rely on the work of their talented junior class and keep their title hopes in mind.
BSU has dropped their first LEC matchup of the year with Salem St., 5-4. A year ago, the Bears finished 1-10, going winless in conference play.
“Confidence is gonna be key in the last few weeks, we are a good team and we just need to limit our errors and play our game,” said Narciso. “The goal for us is to make the Little East tournament.”
“I’m the emotional leader of the team,” said Narciso. “I try to set an example not just for the underclassmen to carry on once my time as a Bear has ended.”
The Bears, despite all hardships, will compete towards their goal of having a chance to make a conference tournament run. BSU men’s tennis will return to the courts Tuesday as they host Southern Maine University at 3 p.m.
Brendan Coughlin is the Sports Editor for The Comment.