Andrew Galvin | Staff Writer | email@example.com
The fourth-seeded St. Michael’s men’s tennis team lost to the fifth-seeded Franklin Pierce Ravens 4-1 in the first NE-10 Conference Championship round on April 26 on the campus tennis courts.
The Purple Knights loss marked an end to a historic season. The Men’s Tennis team won seven matches, the most won in the last 14 years, which gave them their first home playoff match in 13 years.
Five years ago, Jason Hammel took the head coaching job of the men’s tennis team and has made a conscious effort to change the culture of the program over the years.
“I’m always talking to my players about me earning their trust and making it a two-way street,” Hammel said when he described the relationship he strives to have with his players.
Hammel also explained that he tries to keep a team-oriented mindset when it comes to a sport like tennis.
“I know my players, they know themselves, they trust me to make the best decisions for the team.”
According to the team, this mindset has been effective.
“He lets us lead the way we want to,” said Captain Jason Boucher ‘23. “He has a lot of trust in the guys and we give a lot of trust back.”
The team dynamic and Hammel’s coaching persuaded Captain Josh Weiss ’23 into deciding where to play college tennis. “He helps a lot, he was definitely one of the main reasons I came to St. Mike’s, it was for the coach and the culture,” Weiss said. “You don’t come to St. Mike’s for the player you are, but for the player you plan to be.”
The culture isn’t the only thing that the team takes pride in, they are persistent in being as prepared as possible.
Both Boucher and Weiss explained that Hammel provides opportunities beyond team practice to improve their skill set.
“He does a lot more than other coaches. He gives us private lessons, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard of for a college coach at this level. He spends time with each of the guys going through their games, Goal setting and evaluating, always trying to improve personally,” Weiss said.
Boucher added that trust has been an important part in their team relationship with Hammel.
“He’s probably one of the only coaches in college tennis that will fundamentally change something in your game. I’m not sure how familiar you are with tennis but let’s say you’re going to play basketball and you come out of highschool and have a funky shot. A lot of college coaches wouldn’t change that but he right off the bat freshman year is like no that has to change and here is why. And so that is something the coach and the player have to have a lot of trust in each other,” he said.
Boucher had a breakout year, closing 13-5 this year compared to 0-9 last year. He secured a spot on the NE 10 All-Conference first team in singles and he credited his preparation to Hammel. “I improved my training regiment by staying on campus and practicing with Coach Hammel.”
The Purple Knights tallied a program record, five post-season awards. Seb Tonini ‘23 and Weiss were named All-Conference First Team in doubles. Tonini also received Second Team honors in singles. Jackson Moser ‘24 was named to the NE10 All-Rookie Team.
Hammel said the team is prepared for future success. “We feel like we are poised to bring in our new class, and develop them as players…. Our team has gotten better every year, so we feel like in the worst case scenario, we should be right back in contention for a home playoff match next year,” Hammel said.
This season of men’s tennis has been one for the books, and their ambition to win has not faded.
“We always have the same goal, we want to win the conference and win the NCAA,” Hammel said.