By Courtlin Haygarth, Contributing Writer (Courtesy Photo/Bison Athletics)
How would one feel if they entered their respective sport’s season being the pre-season favorite to win their conference and their men’s team being nationally ranked 21?
That is exactly what is facing OBU Head Coach Nick Papac and the OBU tennis team as they get ready to begin their 2018 tennis season on February 10th against Washburn University. In light of the season opener being just around the corner, we sat down with Coach Papac to ask him some questions about his first semester as OBU’s head tennis coach, expectations for his team, and more.
Question: With your semester as OBU’s head tennis coach under your belt, what are some takeaways and things you have learned?
A: First thing is what a great group of kids of here. Coming in, I wanted to cultivate a family atmosphere, come to find out the team does it themselves.
Most of our players are international, so it helps them out to have each other and all be in the same boat. They are all in this together. And what I have learned? What haven’t I learned? I’ve grown up a lot in the past 7 months. It’s different being a head coach compared to being an assistant when it comes to the overall direction of the team. I have much greater administrative responsibility as head coach.
Q: With a difficult schedule ahead of you, what does your team need to do this year to be competitive?
A: Staying healthy is always important. That gives us the best chance to win. Taking care of the little things. We look for quality of practice over quantity of practice. We also want to be prepared for practice and have a mindset to improve in tennis.
Q: Who has emerged as team leaders?
A: We have great senior leadership on this team. We have 3 seniors on both our men’s and women’s side. We look for maturity and responsibility in our team and they hold the team to us as coaches’ standards. We look to our seniors.
Q: What are your goals for each team going into this year?
A: Each year, my goal is to maximize the potential of the team. This year my goals are, for both men’s and women’s, winning the GAC, the conference tournament, and then making it to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament at the end of the year.
The Bison Men, according the ITA rankings, have five matches against top 25 opponents in 2018.
The first of the five comes this Saturday when the Oklahoma Baptist University Bison take on the Washburn University Ichabods in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at 1:00 PM for the Bison’s season opener.