The College of Coastal Georgia men's tennis team has put together an 11-2 campaign going into its final match of the regular season Wednesday at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. The Mariners, currently ranked No. 8 in the country, have been inside the top 10 of the NAIA poll most of the season.
Recently, the sports information department sat down with sophomore Joel Hunter, one of just two returning players for the Mariners when the season started, to talk about his season and the team's success to date.
The following is an excerpt from the interview:
What were your expectations for yourself coming into this season?
"Just for myself, I had a pretty good record last year," Hunter said. "I went 13-5 in singles, I think. So, I was looking at hopefully recreating that again and hopefully having a better record than last year. That was my personal expectations for this season.
What were your expectations for the team this year?
We've been playing at the level I thought we would be playing at coming into this year. We've won the matches we were supposed to win. I thought we could win the ones we've lost, but I think we're doing just as I pictured us doing.
What are your thoughts on the whole tennis team basically being Australian? Do you feel like you guys are representing Australia here?
I don't really think too much about it. It's really just about representing the school and behaving our own way. But I think we do a good job representing our country with us all playing singles.
The team seems to do well in doubles most every match. What are the key components to success?
Doubles has actually gotten really strong at this point in the season. Coach (Kemper Baker) has just been doing a lot of doubles drills with us and it has helped us out a lot.
What made you come to Coastal Georgia?
I had a few NAIA schools that I was talking to before coming to Coastal Georgia, but Rhan (Burton) was a big reason why I chose to come here just because he was somebody I knew. He would talk to the coaches for me, and it was just better coming to a school where I knew somebody versus me going somewhere and not knowing anybody.
What do you do to prepare to play on the day of a match?
I don't have any superstitions really. I just wake up, eat and get ready for my match. I don't do anything too special. I just put on my uniform and go out and play.
How talented is this particular Coastal Georgia team?
Our lineup is pretty talented, one of the best in the country. We rank eighth nationally. We don't have an amazing standout. We can all play anywhere, but Josh (Banks) is a really good No. 1 player. He can stick with anyone.
Who has been your toughest opponent thus far?
AUM and Dalton State because they both currently rank above us due to the fact we lost to both teams.
How is practice every day?
I feel if I hit a lot of tennis balls I feel more confident going into a match. Coach always puts together a good practice for us to prepare for our matches.
How do you picture the season ending?
I expect us to be in the finals at conference, if not winning it. And nationals, I definitely expect us to go pretty deep this year.