The top-ranked Virginia men’s tennis team concludes its season-opening nine-match homestand on Friday when it hosts in-state rival Virginia Tech at Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. The match against the No. 29 Hokies will be the Cavaliers’ last home match until April. Virginiasports.com talked with sophomore Jarmere Jenkins to discuss to start of the season and to preview the upcoming matches.
Question: The team posted another pair of 7-0 wins last week, topping Maryland and Kentucky. Are these the type of performances you expected from the team this season?
Jenkins: We definitely felt that we had a really talented team. With the players we had returning, and the additions of Alex [Domijan] and Justin [Shane], we would have a strong lineup from top to bottom. But we know we can’t win just off of talent, you need to put in the hard work. So far this season we have come out every day of practice looking to improve and the results of that hard work is showing in our matches.
Question: You mentioned the additions of Alex and Justin. How have they been able to come in and make an immediate impact this season, similar to what you did last year?
Jenkins: They are doing a good job of filling their roles on the team. Each day coach asks us to work hard and fill a role to help the team be successful. Just like the veterans, the first-years have earned their spot in the lineup and are contributing to the team’s success.
Question: You are one of five players on the team ranked in the top 30 nationally. How does seeing that level of play every day in practice help you?
Jenkins: It is definitely challenging, but it is the best position you can be in. It is why I came to Virginia. I get to practice with the best players in the country day-in and day-out. They push you and you push them. It is that type of environment that makes us all better players.
Question: You play two ACC matches this week, hosting Virginia Tech on Friday before visiting Boston College on Sunday. The team has been undefeated in the ACC the past four seasons. How much pride do you take in that streak?
Jenkins: ACC matches are always important for us. It is a tough league and we know we need to be ready every time we take the court. We are proud of our success, but we don’t prepare any differently for the ACC matches than we do for non-conference matches. We are ready and focused for whoever is next on our schedule, whether that is an ACC team or not.
Question: Next week you travel to Seattle for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Virginia is the three-time defending champion and no team has ever won four in a row. What would winning another title mean to you?
Jenkins: We are excited. It is always fun to try and accomplish something no one has ever done before. It is a tough tournament to win because you have to play four straight days against the best teams in the country. But if we could win it again, it would give us a lot of momentum for the rest of the season.
Question: After the Virginia Tech match, you are on the road until April. What will it be like playing on the road for the next six weeks?
Jenkins: Coach has talked to us about using it as way to prepare for a career on the pro tour. There you travel every week and play somewhere new and never really have a home match. It is an opportunity to play some tough teams and we are looking forward to that. As long as we go into this stretch with the right mindset and see it as an opportunity for us to be challenged as a team and improve, we should be fine.