Nicholls tennis program returns to the court


Photo by Courtney Sylvest

After a solid 2018-2019 season, the Nicholls State University tennis program is finally returning to the court. 

The teams participated in the Scramble on the Bayou to kick off the season, but these teams have little in common with last year’s squads. Out of both the women’s and men’s teams, they only kept two players from last year’s roster, with both coming from the women’s team.

With so much turnover from last year, coach Greg Harkins said he is confident in the rosters he has put together.

Every player on the men’s roster made their team debut in the Scramble on the Bayou Tournament. Before the tournament was rained out, freshman Antoine Martin-Thiriat and Omar Hussein won singles matches against Jacksonville State to get their first wins in collegiate tennis. 

On the women’s team, another freshman, Laura Lopez, got a singles victory, coupled with another win from senior Mariia Kozachok. The doubles teams also swept past Jacksonville State to get some early season wins under their belt.

As the freshmen impress for the Colonels, it is obvious that there has been some great leadership on the team, helping them adjust to college tennis. 

One of those leaders is sophomore Piyush Surendra Salekar, who still has yet to make his debut for the squad. 

“I feel like most of the players that are freshmen and sophomores are really good, and as they make the transition into college tennis, it’s very important to let them know how it works and how they should act according to a team. Just let them know how things work and how a college tennis team works,” Salekar said. “We can do good things. Everyone is working every day, and we are just building up trust.”

Salekar also said he feels the team has a really solid base. Salekar was also very vocal about the job the coaching staff has done so far.

“The coaches have private sessions, one on one sessions, which is helping a lot,” Salekar said. 

Coach Harkins didn’t want to comment about the losses from last season, showing he is invested in this group. 

“This is a new group, very solid; what we are trying to do is be as competitive as possible and to qualify for conference championships in the spring. We’ve got a new group of guys coming in, with International Tennis Federation (ITF) rankings from the 300s to the 800s, which is very respectable. On the women’s side, we brought in a nice, balanced group. What we’re looking for is growth. We’re very young, no question about that, but in terms of ability and opportunity, we’ve got lots of good things,” Harkins said. 

The tennis team’s roster includes a total of 14 players, 12 of which are from out of the country. 

“We’ve been doing it for a long time, so we’re used to it now. Tennis at the collegiate level is an international sport, but it is unique from that standpoint. Also, with the support of the administration, we’re starting to get a lot of visibility from national kids and international players,” Harkins said. 

Another thing that Harkins said he was proud of was the academic side of the team. He noted that the team was in the top three of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), which is the collegiate standard for tennis. 

“At this level, you can’t have one without the other. If they’re doing it in the classroom, then it usually translates over to the court,” Harkins said. 

Next up on the schedule for the men’s team is the Lamar Invitation in Beaumont, Texas, with the ladies heading to Hammond to participate in the George Comeaux Invite.