Underclassmen are setting the tone for the future of the Pacific University men’s tennis team with sophomore Rayden Murata and freshman Jonathan Chung.
The two have been posting staggering numbers for the Boxers this season, showing their ability on the court. At such an early stage in their collegiate career, it can only get better for these two.
Murata, in his first season with Pacific, would post a 5-6 mark in singles and 8-7 in doubles. This season, he would finish a team best 13-4 in singles and doubles, 9-6. A big improvement, specifically in singles. Although, not much has changed for Murata, it would be the gained experience in his first year and adjusting to collegiate play that has benefited him.
“My mentality has changed,” Murata said. “I think in being a freshman, I was okay losing because it is your first year and you are not expected to be super good. I am realizing I have two more years of this kind of tennis and I want to make the most out of it.”
This kind of season for Murata was no surprise for first year head coach Pete Yellico. It was expected for the sophomore to come in and show his ability after his first season. He mostly played at the No. 4 and No. 6 spot in singles for the Boxers in all but one match, and the No. 3 spot in doubles his first season.
This year, he would play most his singles matches in the middle of the order, but doubles, he would often play at the No. 1 spot with senior Oscar Wright. That duo would post a 7-3 overall record.
Not only was his ability on the court expected, but with only one senior on the roster next season, Murata is expected to become one of the leaders of this young roster these next few years.
“I kind of knew Rayden was going to be a leader coming in,“ Yellico said. “After I took the job as head coach, I have already been starting to groom him to take a leadership role for the next couple years.“
Murata knows this move is to be expected for his next years with the program. As a native of Hawaii, many incoming freshmen next season will be from his hometown, including his brother.
“Coach has approached me about trying to be a leader,” Murata said. “He wants me to be able to connect with them and I am pretty excited to have that leadership role.”
While Rayden is making an impact for the Boxers, quietly freshman Jonathan Chung is doing the same or better known as the, “Silent Assassin”.
“We call him the ‘Silent Assassin’ because he doesn’t say much,” Yellico chuckled. “He is a pretty stoic guy on the court and it has been a pleasure to have him.”
Chung has approved the nickname, not giving much thought to begin with. He gives his full attention to compete at his best during each match.
Chung this year has been a force for Yellico and the Boxers. In his first season, he would finish 11-4 in singles and 12-4 in doubles.
Him and senior Sage Katayama would thrive as a duo, only losing one match on the season, finishing 9-1 to end the year.
In singles, Chung was exceptional at the No. 3 spot for the Boxers. He would finish 8-2 and it was a position in the lineup for Yellico in which he knew it was “a win we could count on every single match.”
At No. 1 and No. 2 for the Boxers would often be Wright and Katayama. Both have experience high in the lineup and fit well for the Boxers chance to win each match. Chung knew regardless where he was put in the lineup he would flourish. It did not make a difference to him as long as it helped the team win.
“I didn’t know exactly where I would be playing,” Chung stated. “But, I knew I could come here and start contributing.”