Orlando: “Sharper as they have ever been coming back”

Time off during the holiday break will not affect Michigan State men’s tennis this weekend, according to Michigan State head tennis coach, Gene Orlando.

“Everyone is super excited to start off the season with the opportunity to play some great teams, get tested early and show who we are as a team,” Orlando said. “We’re confident and we know that we can play at this level.”

That level, is playing the Duke Blue Devils, who are nationally a high-ranked team. Duke is ranked No 12 nationally and third in the ACC, while boasting one of the best freshman singles players in the country, Nicolas Alvarez.

The freshman comes in ranked at No. 18, but coach Orlando and the Spartans know that they do not have to worry about the opponent on the other side of the court.

“We’ll make adjustments once we’re there in the moment, but we’re going to play our game and not change around his,” Orlando said. “We’ll take one point at a time.”

The men’s team arrived back on campus Monday, January 5 and began training a week before university classes began. They have been following their individual fitness plans of weight training and conditioning and Coach Orlando likes the progression of the team.

“The guys are about as sharp as we’ve ever been coming back,” he said. “I attribute that to knowing we have some challenges and we have to be ready. “

Michigan State closes out the weekend on Sunday against No. 27 North Carolina State at 1 p.m. and North Carolina A&T at 8 p.m. The Spartans still have to make a statement against North Carolina A&T, who marveled about the Spartans for making the tournament two years ago and for having an 100-year old program.

Overall, the stakes are high for Michigan State men’s tennis this weekend. And it does not get any easier after that.

“This is a big weekend, next weekend is a big weekend as well,” Orlando said. “So it’s one big weekend after another.”

Alex Scharg is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.

Photo: Anthony Serafino