Head Coach Brandon Stokes
It's always disappointing when the season ends. We accomplished many good things this season. It was our toughest schedule yet and to have winning records overall, in our tough southeast region, and against in state universities is something our boys should be proud of. This is a pattern of success that started three years ago and our seniors leave us with quite a legacy of individual, team, and program success. Their legacy is appreciated.
This is the first year we had consistent peer leadership. The boys did a good job and we will continue to improve our leadership development program. We made dramatic improvement in our competitive success from the fall season into our spring. We defeated a couple well respected and talented in state rival universities for the first time. We earned a top two seed in the conference tournament for the second time in three years. Unfortunately, the season ended earlier than we wanted.
Our program will learn from the final month and how the season ended. It is the coach's responsibility to make certain we never fade, never back down, and always start fast in singles after the doubles point is over regardless of the team result. Our new Owls coming in this fall will learn quickly.
Our Owls know that we must define the moment and not let the moment define us. When we have opportunities to finish matches as individuals and for our team then we will define the moment. When these moments happen and they always do in college tennis we will embrace this concept shared by a legendary collegiate coach: never let losses go to our hearts and wins go to our heads.
I am grateful for the departing Owls efforts and I am excited for our new Owls and season to begin. It will be tough, rewarding, exciting, and full of enthusiasm as we continue the journey of success at FAU together.
April 13, 2011
We had a productive training week last week. The boys finished it off with a Saturday road trip that culminated in a regular season finale win over an in state university. The win was highlighted with our seniors closing out their matches consecutively to clinch the team victory. The win gave our boys and program another winning season overall. It also reflects our winning record within our ITA southeast region, on the road, and versus in state universities. The boys played the toughest regular season schedule we have played in our three seasons together and I am proud of their spirit, resilience, and unified bond.
We continue to prepare for our post season conference tournament in Mobile, AL starting April 21-April 24. All our matches start at 2pm CDT. You can follow the action on our website or www.sunbeltsports.org.
April 6, 2011
We had a long travel day last Thursday due to the thunderstorms and tornadoes from Tampa to central Florida. It provided spontaneous airport entertainment. We eventually made our five hour trip in 13 hours safely to MTSU.
We were seeded No. two in the tournament but left as the four seed. Unacceptable and disappointing...but it was a productive trip and experience. We have 14 days before we leave for our conference tournament in Mobile, AL. We know what we have to improve and what we must continue to do well.
We had family and friends at the tournament which provided inspiration and delicious food. Our host families were spectacular. Kind and supportive of the boys...southern charm and hospitality reigned supreme!
We have our final regular season match this weekend in Daytona Beach so I hope FAU alumni and fans will be out to root on the boys at 4 p.m. versus Bethune-Cookman.
March 29, 2011
We just completed our final home stand for the spring season. The season flies by faster every year...time is a tenuous construct. We played three matches in five days beginning last Thursday. The boys started round one with a win but we needed more spirit. Saturday presented an opportunity for more competitive spirit. The boys delivered from start to finish against a tough team. Round two went in our favor once again. The final round was today--Senior Day. Unfortunately, the magnificent Mother Nature trumped the best laid human plans yet again. Perspective.
The match against an Ivy League team was delayed a little over two hours. We decided to start with the traditional format--doubles first. It's one of the best parts to college tennis for the players, fans, and coaches. And the radar looked promising...Perspective.
Senior Day started with a short presentation by the coaches to our 3 leaders, Ervin Garibovic, Marc Abdelnour, and Daniel Vardag. Each of the captains spoke eloquently and sincerely to their younger mates about the privilege and fun they have experienced competing as an Owl. We also acknowledged our graduate assistant team trainer, Shayna Nickel. She is graduating as well and taking her success to some lucky school and team. Shayna also spoke glowingly about her time helping our Owls be the healthiest team around. All four of them will be deeply missed. Their absence will never be filled but the strength of our memories will carry us on to greater journeys and heights.
We swept the doubles courts to gain early match momentum. Our seniors served out the clinching points at courts one and three to honor senior day. The singles started with the Ivy Leaguers sweeping us at postions four, five and six. Courts one and three were in second sets with FAU leading up a set on both. Court two was in the third set on serve. Our seniors were valiantly leading us in singles on their special day. Then the thunder rolled...and the darkness above swept upon us. And the rain started...and continued...and intensified...and continued...we canceled the match an hour after we suspended play.
It was a spirited day. It was a special senior day. Thank you to the fans, administrators, families, and friends who supported our seniors and mates today. Thank you for coming out all season.
We are on to conference matches this weekend.
March 21, 2011
Ah, two tough matches last week against nationally ranked teams. Back to back matches. The first one against the Big 10 team was a solid 15-hour road trip bonding day. We battled at most positions but did not let our greatness out on the deciding points. We're committed to letting our greatness out on our way home...and we gave the visiting ACC team a heck of a ride.
The doubles point was close but we only converted one of 20 break point opportunities at positions one and two doubles. It is incredibly difficult to win against a nationally ranked team underperforming at those moments. We battled back as a team in singles. Tying the team match at 3-3 and securing the lead with aggressive and determined tennis. It was awesome! And then, the visiting team persevered and held off match points and snuck out the victory from our valiant senior.
The pain is helping us train harder and smarter this week so we continue to put ourselves in position to win our conference tournament in five weeks. It's only 1 match and this doesn't define who we are--regardless if it was a win or a loss. So we move on together with greater conviction, determination, enthusiasm, and some awesome memories!
Thank you to the terrific vocal support from our Owl fans. The friends, students, and families were awesome. They lived and breathed every point with us. Next time we will pull it out together because we are tougher now and we are FAU!
March 14, 2011
Last week was a productive week for our team. The boys gave consistent solid effort in the first 2 matches which produced wins. One against a Midwest spring break team and the other was a conference victory over the defending conference champions. Anytime the boys win at this level it is to be appreciated. College tennis gets more competitive every year. It's awesome!
We lost our last match yesterday against a fiery, tough, and respected team from the Atlantic 10. They made the most of their spring break trip outcompeting us in several spots. It is an invaluable lesson for some of the boys to learn for the first time in a team setting. It's a painful lesson, a tough one to accept and to honestly learn from...but one of the beautiful qualities to team competition is that it reveals the wonders of humanity. It brings out the best and worst in most of us. Losing is not the worst thing in life. The very worst is not to give the best effort possible at each moment.
We have two nationally ranked teams this week. One at a neutral site on Thursday against a Big 10 team and then back home on Friday at 1 p.m. versus an ACC team. We have two grand opportunities to demonstrate what we experience and learn is genuine. Go Owls!
Help us Rock the Reef Friday!
March 1, 2011
What an amazing week it was...we set a goal in the fall of 2010 and it's always special to reach it. Now we have many more to fulfill. We had a productive week and we spent time off the court together to help us reach our goal. I am happy for the team and especially Ollie. He already has a history with UCF as a freshman. Everyone on our team (veterans and rookies) contributed to our victory--especially the freshman in doubles and singles.
Our upcoming week is filled with maintenance and growth. It's our time to hone in on what we need to improve and to master our strengths. The month of March is a home stand for us. Thus, we need to be optimally prepared--mentally, emotionally, and physically--for the challenge.
We are excited for one of our Owls, Marc Abdelnour, to compete in the Davis Cup qualifying this weekend. He represents his home country, Syria, and FAU against the Republic of Korea. He is the number one player for Syria and we look forward to his relentless competitiveness to lead his nation to the next round.
All of you are welcome to come out to Patch Reef Park next week to root us on as we open with three home matches. See you then!
February 22, 2011
Another weekend spent together on the road early in the season. It's always beneficial. Two weekends ago started with a tough home loss against a well coached and prepared team in North Florida. It ended with an immediate night road trip and a big upset win over an ultra talented USF team. This past weekend we competed fairly well against an improving, fighting team and program on the road in Florida Gulf Coast. Sunday, the 20th, was our annual trip down south on I-95 to Coral Gables to battle Miami. They are well coached and ultra talented and they demonstrated it on Sunday. All the credit to them and our boys. We gave our best...
A HUGE thank you to all the fans that drove down from Boca for the Sunday match...and the Garibovic family making a surprise appearance from Bradenton. Very cool and vocal support! Great to see our colors in the Gables...
Now we focus each day in our preparation for our annual showdown with another tough in-state university in UCF...this is our 6th in a row versus in state competitors! Every match the past four years has been 4-3...not in our favor. So now we go on the road as underdogs versus a talented, well prepared and coached team. It's an incredible challenge that our boys must get prepared for. We will do our best...
Hope to see our fans once again on the road in Orlando this Saturday!
February 1, 2011
We begin a new month with enthusiasm, confidence, and an unbreakable bond.
We know who we are.
We know where we are going.
We know how to get there.
We are excited to move forward...to keep on moving forward in February.
To keep on keepin' on in our 2011 spring journey together.
January 25, 2011
We came off our season opening weekend on Sunday evening. We spent Thursday through Sunday night together. And it was awesome! Road trips are a fundamental and interesting way to create and sustain a collective bond.
Our Thursday night match was rained out. It is the first spring season match rain out we have had since I have been head coach here (fall 2008). We will get it rescheduled. We then traveled to Tallahassee to play three matches in two days.
It was a weekend of mixed results for us. The objective results weren't the best as a team. We intended to have better results but lots of that has to do with the high quality teams we played. We learned a great deal about ourselves individually and collectively. Now we must apply this self and team knowledge. It's a fun and productive journey!
Our next stop is Jacksonville, FL. We play this Sunday at 10am. We welcome all the Owl fans who live on the northeast coast to come root us on!
October 5, 2010
This is a competitive month for the team. We have three team events all in our home state of Florida. It will be the defining competitive stretch for us this fall season. We had a decent beginning a couple weeks ago. Since then we have redefined our goals for the fall season and refined our action plan to help guide us along the way to these goals. We will use the goals and action plan to launch us into our spring season in January.
We are in week seven of the academic semester. The boys are doing a solid job academically this is a particularly stressful time of the semester for students because exams and projects are due. They are determined to reach our team academic goal for the semester.
We are coming together as a team. Our numbers are diminished from years past but the spirit is stronger than it's ever been at this point in the fall season! We know hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.This competitive stretch will provide greater depth to our relationships, opportunities to demonstrate competitive greatness in singles and doubles, and most importantly solidify our identity as mates who will fight to the end for one another.
September 2, 2010
Return to Campus
It is wonderful to have the guys back. The first week was exciting, informative, and a revealing test of the Owls summer habits and commitment. Our team has changed since last year and it's for the positive. The bond these boys are forming helps us reach our goal of this being the best year yet for the Dirty Birds.
This is just the beginning. Where, how will we end?
Each of the guys is here for a particular reason. They are creating their new roles, identities, and destinies individually and collectively. We are forming self belief and belief in each other. It's an awesome time! Every one of us has roles to play in our grand game. Let us move forward with zest...acknowledge where we are...give thanks we are not where we were...and create our own future by earning it with sweat, love, blood, tears, hugs, screams, laughter, and healthy appetites.
The warriors that comprise our team and represent our university, city, and state are motivated. They have the passion, the vision, and the daily habits to sustain themselves and help make this the best season yet.<-->
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