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Tennis Takes the Court

The tennis world was abuzz during the past week, with so many intriguing and entertaining story lines playing out in Flushing Meadows at the U.S. Open. I, for instance, still can’t get over this shot by Roger Federer, who despite this for-the-ages highlight in the semis was dethroned as champion by Juan Martin Del Potro in the men’s final.

Locally, tennis fans can now turn their attention to Creighton’s men’s and women’s teams, which start their fall individual seasons this week. The men are up first, with a trip to the Drake Fall Invitational this weekend.

Head coach Tom Lilly’s men’s team roster is about the biggest it has ever been, as the squad welcomes six newcomers to join six experienced players this fall. “The new guys have given the team a boost of enthusiasm,” Lilly said. Still, the returners know what is expected of them individually and of the program in general, and why Lilly’s expectations are as such.

That translates to the practice courts, where the Jays have tried to spend more time in the weeks leading up to the fall season, led by the returners. “We’ve been hitting it pretty hard, trying to get in better shape,” Lilly said. “Zach Duval and his staff have done a great job in getting our players focused on what exactly they need to do to be where we want them to be.”

But with the fall individual season starting this weekend, the adjustments for the newcomers haven’t stopped when they leave the net. Lilly says he counts on his experienced players to help the younger ones understand what is expected of them as a student-athlete on the tennis team. “The older guys help in more ways than just on the court,” Lilly said. “They help the new guys adjust to school, deal with the coaches and other players the right way. They help them understand the history of the program and what we want to accomplish.”

Those efforts start this weekend at the Drake Fall Invitational. Creighton will send players to the A, B, and C singles flights, and the doubles bracket. In addition to the Jays, Drake will host players from Gustavus Adolphus, Minnesota, Northern Colorado, South Dakota State, and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. “There is really good competition from the other schools, and our guys are excited to get started,” Lilly said.

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