By Dave Johnson
Almost 14 months in the past, the boys’s tennis group at William & Mary believed it was a contender. The Tribe had some good wins — together with an enormous one towards Elon, the very group that had eradicated it from the earlier springs’ convention event.
So it was championship or bust. Then got here the pandemic, and the whole lot — title goals included — ended.
A yr later, the Tribe has one other likelihood going into the Colonial Athletic Affiliation Championship, which begins Friday on the Millie West Tennis Facility. Main the cost is fifth-year senior Brenden Volk, who graduated in 2020 however is again with the NCAA’s additional yr of eligibility for final spring’s athletes.
Volk is aware of in addition to anybody how badly this program desires a championship.
“We received to the finals of the convention event my sophomore yr,” mentioned Volk, who transferred in from Northwestern previous to the 2017-18 season. “The next yr, we misplaced within the semifinals in a heartbreaker.
“Final yr, we felt that was our likelihood to take all of it the best way. We had the blokes to do it and we had the outcomes to point out for it all year long. Then it was taken away from us, and we did not even get an opportunity to compete. After I received the prospect to come back again, I could not go it up.”
In his second-chance senior season, Volk has performed primarily on the No. 1 spot, the place is 4-4. With George Davis, he’s 6-4 at No. 1 doubles with a three-match profitable streak getting into the CAA Championship.
Tribe coach Jeff Kader sees one other worth to Volk, who’s engaged on his Grasp of Enterprise Administration.
“Final yr was meant to be his senior yr, and he was all in,” Kader mentioned. “He was prepared to do no matter it took to get it accomplished. He was a motivating drive behind the remainder of the group earlier than that was minimize quick (by the pandemic).
“To have him come again, he simply introduced that mentality over again. Having that motivating issue of a second likelihood, that simply brings a little bit additional fireplace — for him and the remainder of the blokes as nicely.”
As one of many group’s older gamers at 23, Volk welcomes the management position.
“I’ve at all times needed to be the man my teammates look as much as,” mentioned Volk, who has made the CAA Commissioner’s Tutorial Honor Roll in every of his 4 years at W&M.
“I need to do the whole lot I can to verify this group is put in a profitable place. There’s nothing extra I would like than to assist these guys win a championship this yr.”
With a 2-4 document eight weeks in the past, W&M did not have the look of a championship group. However discussions have been had, mirrors have been appeared into, and the whole lot modified.
“After we misplaced to Elon (on March 7), it was a actuality test that we weren’t taking part in as much as the extent we must be,” Volk mentioned. “We got here collectively for an enormous group assembly and went over precisely what we wanted to do to verify we did not lose to a convention rival once more.
“Then got here the Mary Washington match. That helped us get on our scorching stretch.”
On March 19, the Tribe defeated Mary Washington 7-0 with just one set misplaced. Certain, the Eagles are a Division III program, however that was the primary of 5 consecutive wins. That included 4-3 victories over James Madison and Previous Dominion and a 6-1 win vs. Richmond.
Because the No. 3 seed, William & Mary will go towards No. 6 Charleston in a 6 p.m. quarterfinal Friday. If the Tribe advances, likelihood is it might face No. 2 Elon in Saturday’s semifinals. Then, if it goes that far, No. 1 UNCW most definitely for the championship on Sunday.
Volk will take pleasure in each second of it. In reality, he already has.
“I am so grateful to be part of this group,” he mentioned. “Win or lose, I am so completely happy I used to be capable of come again for an additional season and compete alongside my teammates one final time.
“To attempt to chase that ring that has eluded me my total profession. To attempt to get that ring that has eluded Coach Kader since he is been right here. I do know we’ve got the group that may do something attainable this weekend to verify we stroll out as champions.”