By Ian Snowdeal
The Springfield men’s tennis team is one of the most freshmen-heavy teams on campus. With four of the eight players on the team being first-years, the season has been one of ups and downs. One bright side for the team has been the play of freshman Lucas Van Deventer.
Van Deventer began playing tennis his freshman year at Ellington High School (EHS) in Connecticut. During his freshman and sophomore year, Van Deventer played strictly No. 3 doubles, but during his junior and senior year he was the No. 1 singles player for the team. During his final two years at EHS, Van Deventer dominated singles play, finishing with an undefeated record.
He earned All-North Central Connecticut Conference honors and his team won the conference overall during his senior year.
When Van Deventer arrived on campus this past fall he didn’t really have a spot on the team after former head coach Chad Stoloff left during the summer to coach at the University of Northern Colorado. Stoloff was replaced by Mike Louis, a former player, and coach at the University of Connecticut.
During the fall season, Deventer was working hard on earning a spot on the team.
“In the Fall I didn’t have a spot in the lineup so I was really just seeing how people were playing and doing,” Deventer said, “It was a different perspective that I appreciated, and it made me realize what I needed to do better and how others were still rallying and supporting me.”
When talking about Van Deventer, coach Louis said, “He listens, he’s the type of player you love to coach, he listens and he does.”
It has been a journey for Van Deventer from the fall to spring season. When the spring season arrived he was ready to earn his spot on the team, and he did just that.
“In the Spring I really tried to follow what I was learning and I found a spot in singles, and I started winning,” Van Deventer said.
Since earning a spot in the lineup he has amassed a record of 8-4 and started off 5-0.
“He’s worked hard,” said Louis. “He’s earned his position here.”
The team preaches intensity and that is something Van Deventer has had to work on since joining the team.
“We asked him to be a bit more vocal,” Louis said.
Van Deventer, who is more of a quiet individual has worked more to show his intensity and be more vocal while on the court.
“Coach is always saying that we need to bring the intensity and energy and I’ve been starting to use that as an advantage to try and win my matches.”
Louis has worked endlessly since the fall to work and develop all of his players. It is something that he has done great since he began coaching Deventer in the fall.
“Coach really knows what to work on, he knows specifically what everyone needs to work on,” said VanDeventer. “For me, he really dialed in and helped me focus on one aspect of getting better. He’s been persistent in keeping up the work with me. He trusts me and that helps me get better.”
Louis added, “The fundamentals we are doing, it shows in his game. He has taken it in and embraced it, check his record and it shows.”
Beside his work with coach Louis, Deventer has learned a lot from lone senior Court Honda. Honda, an All-New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) player, has had a fantastic career with the Pride.
“In the Fall it was a lot different, I was just trying to see how things were going, just going through the flow of things, and Court really helped me. He told me it was a process,” Van Deventer said.
Along with being an NCAA Div. III athlete Van Deventer works as the beat writer for the Springfield Student, covering women’s lacrosse. Although he hasn’t been able to cover the team as intensely as he wanted to, he’s learned to manage his time and prioritize his tasks.
“There were times where I felt like I was letting them down cause I told them I wanted to be a beat writer for lacrosse and it was my job to cover the games, but I was able to get to some and be able to cover them,” said Van Deventer “I made sure I was up to date on what they were doing so I could still write for the paper.”
As a freshman the entire year has been one of development for Van Deventer both on and off the court.
“It really came down to managing time, I really had to seperate, work, tennis and beat writing and to prioritize my tasks. I thought I got a lot better, I was able to see much improvement overall.”
With the season just ending he is excited to get back to work and be better for what the team will bring next season.
“We really grew as a family and hope it carries on the next season to come,” said Van Deventer.
With three more years left and only one season of development Van Deventer will look to be one of the Pride’s strongest assets coming into the fall season.
“To continue playing singles and to get into the doubles lineup and play some more and just get more wins for the team.”