Men’s Tennis Prepares for Smoother Season


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Senior Matthew Jones will lead the Wildcats in singles and doubles this season.

Noah Swan, Staff Writer

In a new season, the Villanova men’s tennis team will look to shake off last year’s mediocrity in search of greater consistency.

In last year’s pandemic-interrupted season, 10 cancellations or postponements riddled the Wildcat schedule. A young team slogged through a bumpy schedule to a 9-11 record, including a first-round exit against Marquette during the Big East Championships. Now a junior, Alex Kim bore the brunt of the team’s schedule as the top player for the Wildcats, and his record reflected the difficult year.

The doubles lineup failed to find a level of consistency necessary for nurturing successful partnerships. Coach Brad Adams played 14 different doubles partnerships throughout the previous season, continuing to tinker with combinations throughout the regular season. Only two doubles teams finished with winning records among those who played more than three matches.

However, the youth of the team last year is now beginning to grow into experience. And that experience is engendering ambition.

“Hungry. For sure.”

That’s Adams’ one-word response to how he would describe this year’s team.

The five freshmen from last year are now sophomores with one year of experience against some of the toughest-ever-conditions faced by college tennis players. The sophomores are now juniors with double the number of challenges faced under their belt. The expectations should be not necessarily for perfection, but certainly growth.

Sophomore Josh Robinson is one of the key players to monitor at the start of the team’s season. Despite the team’s below .500 doubles record a year ago, Robinson and senior partner Matthew Jones found great success finishing with a 12-5 record. As one of the few players with an established history of match-play, that doubles partnership could be an important variable in the Wildcats’ winning formula this season. The duo played to a 3-4 record during exhibition matches in the fall, but the competitive experience from last season remains encouraging.

On the singles side, Robinson ranked among the top players last season alongside current sophomore Eitan Khromchenko. The pair finished with identical 10-8 records in the singles column, gaining vital experience in their first season as Wildcats. Many Villanova wins last season necessitated big matches from Robinson and Khromchenko as Kim struggled against much older and stronger competition. Both Robinson and Khromchenko continued their strong showings from a year ago, finishing with .500 or better records during fall exhibitions.

It is more challenging to point to a senior player as a major contributor to this team, as both seniors this season saw little match play during the previous campaign. While Jones excelled in doubles, he and senior Collin Klumb played a combined one singles match last season. That may be set to change following the fall term. Jones battled to a team-leading 11-4 singles record during the exhibition stretch, a potential signal to Coach Adams that the senior is ready for a greater role in the singles lineup this season.

“Matt had a very impressive fall season,” Adams said of the senior. “He’s a guy who’s improved basically every practice. He’s really done well making sure everything we do is locked in. He deserves a chance to start in the first match against Jefferson.”

With a team loaded with sophomores and juniors, this year’s freshman class has amounted to two players: Lukas Choi and Trey Fourticq. Choi will likely spend much of his time on the practice courts this season if the fall exhibition playtime is any indication of his status. Hailing from Los Angeles, Fourticq provides some greater intrigue. Despite the competition for matches in the lineup, the freshman put up the second-best singles record on the team during the fall. While it is likely both freshmen factor little into this year’s team, both deserve recognition as developmental pieces in the Wildcat talent pipeline.

While this team certainly boasts more experience than last year, an interesting wrinkle that could prove challenging comes in the team’s west coast trip during early March. Villanova will travel to California for four matches and a doubles tournament before returning to local competition through the second half of the season.

“The California stretch, we’re playing a lot out there,” Adams noted. “We have to win three matches in a row to win a conference championship. I think the California stretch is a huge measuring stick as far as where the team is halfway through the season.”

Both Adams and the team subscribe to the lofty heights of a Big East title. With another year of experience, and a tough early schedule, a team previously defined by youth finds itself one year older and one step closer to postseason success.