The Fairfield University men’s tennis team opened their spring season with a 0-7 loss to the Yale University Bulldogs in New Haven, Conn. on Sunday, Jan. 30. The Stags fought hard against the Bulldogs and were led by the opening day starting tandem of Keean Shah ‘24 and Jonathan Olive-Blanco ‘23. They went head to head against Yale’s top pair, Cody Lin and Michael Sun, before falling 7-5. The same score was achieved at number three doubles with Stags Sam Hodges ‘25 and Griffin Schlesinger ‘23. The men stayed competitive and kept positive attitudes throughout gameplay.
Jeff Bricker is in his eighth season as head coach of the Fairfield men’s and women’s tennis teams. A native of Branford, Conn., Bricker was voted the 2019 MAAC Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year after taking Fairfield to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship and a National Collegiate Athletic Association postseason appearance.
Although Coach Bricker and his team fell short over the weekend, he took pride in his team’s spirit and toughness throughout gameplay. “I thought our energy was through the roof on Sunday. I thought from the first ball to the last ball all nine guys were in it. They were in it for each other, they were loud and that makes a difference whether you’re on the court or not.”
Coach Bricker added, “You’ve got guys cheering, yelling for you at every point, you’re gonna push harder. That was about as good as I’ve seen it in my time here with the men. They were pretty dialed in as a team.”
Tougher matches are to come, and Bricker hopes to increase the team’s overall physical fitness. “Things that we’re looking to improve on, you know, honestly we need to get our fitness level a little higher, pretty normal for this time of year, as we come back from break,” he said. That is something that we’re working on in the weight room and on the courts and on the treadmill. We’ll be ready as we go forward but for right now that’s certainly something that needs to improve.”
Coach Bricker puts emphasis on preparation through experience. “We need to get matches. The more matches we play, the more confidence we get with our games so over the coming weeks we have lined up we should start to see all of those things start to improve,” he explained.
Fairfield University’s men’s tennis team is locked in and ready to take the title that they narrowly escaped last year. The Stags lost 4-2 against the No. 1 seed Monmouth University last April.
Bricker explained,“The MAAC Championship is always the number one goal, we came about as close as you can come last year against Monmouth in the finals without winning. We obviously want to improve upon that.”
“Beyond that, we have a really difficult, good schedule this year so getting all of that experience against top teams is going to be important.”
Bricker is thrilled at the chance to face some tough opponents and sees every match as a chance for growth. “We’ll go down and play UNC Wilmington in Carolina, they were top 40 or 50 last year […] they’re a very good team, so it’s good to see that type of level and continue to improve and stay positive together as a team,” Bricker commented.
Coach Bricker summed up the year in a few words, saying “I think the sky’s the limit.”
The men’s tennis team will head to West Point, New York. for a doubleheader at Army West Point on Sunday, Feb. 6. The Stags will face the Bryant University Bulldogs at 10:00 a.m. followed by Army West Point at 4:00 p.m. Both matches will be streamed on ESPN+.
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