April 13, 2012
By Adam Gonzales
Arizona's men's tennis team has some of the youngest players on its roster that it has ever had . Considering how inexperienced the Wildcats are, they are doing a good job fighting through some tough challenges. The Wildcats are led by freshman and sophomores this year, they players are being put into big roles at such a young age.
"We've played our full lineup this year with mainly freshman and sophomores," Arizona Head Coach Tad Berkowitzsaid. "There have also been a lot of matches where we had four freshman playing in our top six."
Sophomore Andre Vidaller, who is a native of Brazil, is characterized as the team leader, and he sets good examples for how the freshman should handle practices and matches.
"He's our leader," Berkowitz said. "He's our vocal leader and our emotional leader. He has had some injuries this year, but even 50% Andre still helps the team just with his presence. He just gets it."
Vidaller has relished his leadership role.
"I've had that role since I have been in high school," Vidaller said. "I love to be loud and pumping the guys up, and I really like the environment and seeing everyone pumped up, which gets me excited."
Freshman Sumeet Shindehas also stepped up as a leader for the Wildcats. Shinde moved here to Tucson just this past January from his native country India and has already found a key role on this team.
"It is amazing the strides he has taken," Berkowitz said. "He went 3-1 these past two weeks all against top-10 teams playing at the third or fourth spot, and those are tough spots. He's definitely making strides."
It took a little while for Shinde to get used to playing at Arizona because of the culture shock that he experienced. He joined the team mid-season, but he is starting to get the hang of it and is now enjoying himself.
"It was kind of tough," Shinde said. "This is my first semester here, so coming in during the season has been a challenge, but now I'm starting to get used to everything, and I love it here in Tucson."
Because everybody on the team is so young, the players and coaches are looking forward to what the team could look like in the next couple of years.
"We have to go through some growing pains this year," Berkowitz said. "The thing that I take pride in is that we have such a strong schedule, and I think that makes the guys tougher. I know our record is a little bit down this year, but I think where the program is going will benefit us in the long run."
The team is also optimistic about the Wildcats' future. Both Vidaller and Shinde believe that the youth of the team will definitely pay off in a couple of years, and maybe even next year.
"I am expecting big things from myself, the rest of the team, and the coaches," Vidaller said. "Next year, we won't be freshmen and sophomores anymore, we'll be sophomores and juniors, which will be very good for us."
The team is looking to finish the season strong and build on what could be a very promising future.