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Head Coach Brandon Stokes

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November 15, 2012

Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic Blog

It was the first time FAU had been invited to this elite college tournament. We traveled with two coaches and three Owls to Lakewood Ranch, FL. It was a 32 singles draw and a 16 doubles draw. Teams from the west coast, Midwest, east coast, and our Sunshine State represented with pride.

Our doubles team of Robbie and Matt relentlessly competed against a game UF team. Our fundamentals were solid and our energy was terrific. We just dug a couple holes that in the end we could not overcome. It was a positive and disappointing start to the tournament Friday morning. We took many positives from the match but we want to win those close matches and continue in the tournament.

Singles was a tough start later in the afternoon. We lost two three-set matches but competed the best we could in every match. We were fired up to make runs in the consolation draw.

Saturday afternoon started the run of Will Neuner in the consolation draw. He won two matches including beating the number two seed. Matt Samberg lost a tough three set match but his attitude remained strong and his spirit more determined. Will finished the tournament for the Owls by winning the finals in straight sets in the finals on Sunday. He played well and competed his butt off. His energy and execution were outstanding. He started points on his terms and finished most points by dictating the flow of the rally. It was a fantastic end to the fall season for Will and our team!

November 6, 2012

We returned on Sunday evening from our first fall clay court tournament in Orlando, FL. Florida State and the USTA joined together to create an elite clay court invitational tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports park. It was amazing. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resorts (not paid for the free ad). Who stays at a resort to compete in a college tournament? I am from Ohio. We never did things like this. Incredible! I took four Owls and they all appreciated the privilege of being invited, the accommodations, and competing against some of the elite tennis programs in the nation.

It was a productive weekend for our team and program. It was week 11 in the semester and there are many excuses for young student athletes to not give it their best at that point in the fall. My boys committed to being optimally prepared for each of their matches and to display competitive greatness regardless of their level of play.

Fall tournaments like this present a challenge to each individual in terms of match preparation the day of. The guys are playing at different times and must take it upon themselves to get their mind, body, and spirit correct without any reminders from coach. It is a learning process and we did outstanding over the weekend. We have a checklist to follow and when followed it works. It showed in our consistent effort, attitude, and spirit.

Proper preparation means we put ourselves in the best possible place to play and compete at our best. We did not always play our best but we did compete our best. I am incredibly proud of Rich, Chema, Will, and Sean for responding to my challenges, and our individual and team goals. We talked about at the beginning of the tournament what we want our legacy to be when we get back in the van on Sunday. What will be remembered for? We met our individual and team goals. It is a highlight of the fall season. It is good to be a Dirty Bird!

Our assistant coach, Dan Mork, stayed behind and trained three Owls to get them ready for this weekend’s elite tournament. It is awesome to have his expertise develop our boys. It adds harmony to our team and program because everyone is improving every day either in practice or in tournaments. We are taking Robbie, Matt, John, and Will to the Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic in Sarasota, FL. We will compete with elite programs from the west coast to the Midwest to the northeast and the southeast. It is going to be awesome. We will play singles and doubles against some of the best in the country.

I will send a summary next week when we return.


September 18, 2012

We returned a couple days ago from our first fall tournament this season. Road trips are awesome. It stinks being away from home and our family and friends but we get to spend all our time together as a growing family. The bond of the guys continues to grow and our identity is forming off the court. We are still searching for our identity on the court but this is a natural part of the process at this point in the season.

We immerse ourselves in myelin building, identity growth, and becoming better athletes and competitors these next two weeks before another road trip to our next tournament.

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