Athlete of the Week: Dylan Flanagan, Men’s Tennis


Courtesy of John Carlos II

Athlete of the Week: Dylan Flanagan, Men’s Tennis

Daniel Mezzalingua

Dylan Flanagan, a member of the Villanova Men’s Tennis team, has developed his game mightily throughout his collegiate career by focusing on his weaknesses and taking advice from his coaches. Most of Flanagan’s improvement as a tennis player has been mental, rather than physical.

Flanagan, a junior, has been a major contributor to the team this season, which holds a record of 7-2 (1-0 in the conference)this season. His journey to this point in his career started when he was just five years old. Growing up, Flanagan played many different sports, but in high school, he decided to focus only on tennis since that would increase his chances to play in college. His hard work and dedication to the sport shaped him into a commanding player throughout high school.

Flanagan was the captain of his high school tennis team. In his senior year, his team dominated the competition by going 32-0 and winning a state championship. Individually, he was ranked the fourth best player in New Jersey in his graduating class.

Flanagan is proud of his 15-6 record in each season of his first two years at Villanova. He also has a solid 6-1 start this season. Flanagan is optimistic that the team will do very well this year, as they’ve had a better start to the year than they’ve had in previous years.

Flanagan says that his biggest strengths as a player include athleticism and his competitive nature.

“I love to compete,” he said. “I like going one-on-one against somebody and then trying to out-battle them and outlast them on the court.”

In terms of the weakest parts of his game, Flanagan says it’s all mental.

“I can be a bit of a hothead sometimes,” he said. “I’ve been working on that a little bit. Like I said, Tennis is such a mental game. You really have to control your own emotions out there because everything you do, your opponent picks up on and they can use to your advantage.”

This year, Flanagan has focused on conserving his energy by focusing on one point at a time, rather than thinking about what’s going on with the other team or in his head. He says that tennis is an extremely mental game, because players are on the court completely alone, with no teammates or help, which can have a large impact on a players physical and mental state. 

“I always compare it to a boxing match without actually hitting each other, because you’re still trading body blows and you’re wearing each other down, moving each other back and forth and back and forth,” Flanagan said. “When you’re not playing well or having a bad day, there’s nobody there to sub in for you. You can’t sit on the bench and regather yourself and check back in later in the game. You really have to figure it out by yourself. There’s really only you to pick yourself up in the toughest moments.”

Flanagan says that he conserves his energy during matches by not reacting too positively or negatively to things that happen on the court.

“I think when you’re overly negative on yourself, that puts a big strain on you physically and mentally, and I think when you’re overly positive sometimes and you get yourself too amped up, you’ll run out of energy too quickly,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan says that the coaching staff has particularly helped with the development of his mental toughness. The coaches support for him whether it’s on the court or in the weight room has helped his confidence and mental state tremendously.

Flanagan’s goal for this year is to win the Big East Conference. Individually, he hopes to keep the successful record he’s maintained throughout his career. Flanagan hopes that in the future he can help younger players by giving guidance and direction from his personal experiences, as he wants to stick with tennis for his entire life.

“Tennis is a life sport, so it’s always going to be a part of my life,” Flanagan said. “I need to enjoy these last two years.”