The men’s tennis program has grown in the past four years and with hard work and supportive leaders, they are becoming more recognized. Along with their growth in the program, men’s tennis has most notably started to win.
This season, the players’ confidence is present on the court, which can be seen with their current third place standing in the Northwest Conference.
“I don’t think there is a single match this year where we are the underdog,” said senior co-capitain Michael Okada, “We have a chance against everyone.”
They have already won four times this season. The team is working to keep their standing high to reach their longtime goal of going to conference.
Although the team feels more comfortable now, the tennis program was not always as on top of their game.
When Coach Brian Jackson started with Pacific men’s tennis four years ago, the team actually became serious, said senior Nhat Nguyen.
At the start of Jackson’s coaching career at Pacific there were no tennis courts. Pacific took out the only courts on campus to make way for Gilbert Hall. On top of that dilemma, more than five players quit the team after a trial season in the fall of Jackson’s first season at Pacific, leaving the men’s tennis team with only seven players.
The team’s practices were a “grind” every day, said Nguyen.
They got into a bus at 8 p.m. every evening of the week to drive to the tennis courts in Beaverton.
They then waited until about 9 p.m. for a free court, practiced until 11 p.m. and made it back to campus by midnight.
Along with those trying practices, their success that year consisted of only one team win.
Over the years things have gotten easier for the men’s tennis team.
Along with gaining more recruits, they had three new starters and started to fill out the team little by little.
Last season the team was able to stop their bus rides to Beaverton with the opening of the Holce tennis courts on campus. And while they placed in seventh in the NWC again, Nguyen said the team relied on each other more, as a team.
This year’s season has let the team fill out the complete elements of the program, said Jackson. Having seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen participate has been beneficial for the whole team. With the leadership and experience of captains Okada and senior Jeffery Lee, Jackson said the team was prepared for the season.
“I’d say both physically and success wise, it’s grown immensely,” said Jackson.
The addition of two football players to the team, freshmen Alen Suklje and Troy Zuroske, has added to the diversity of the team, giving the team a more powerful physical presence on the court, Jackson said this is the first time the tennis team has been able to dominate physically with the game.
“We don’t see them as football players,” said Nguyen, “They’re tennis players that just happened to play football.”
As the team gains recognition for their wins and team spirit, the number of players has grown along with the excitement for recruits.
“Each year we gain better recruits,” said Nguyen, “And each year the new players get better faster because of our experience.”
Their success has mainly been accredited to Jackson. Nguyen said that without Jackson they would not have courts, shoes, transportation to games or team unity.
“It’s easier to give 100 percent when you know your coach has your back,” said senior Patrick Kinghorn.
The program has grown to 16 players and their goals are set. This season the team plans to change their past seventh place standing. They have to because this year the conference is only allowing the top four teams to go to the championships.
With that new challenge Pacific is shooting for fourth. Jackson said that the team is being realistic and that they could have a shot for second.
“We have the experience, we have the talent and it’s more fun winning,” said Nguyen.


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