Junior Russell Bader and freshman Roman Trkulja will be playing both doubles and singles next week in the All-American tennis Championships in Tulsa, OK.
It was a disappointing start to the season for the recently paired doubles team after losing its opening round match and having to settle for a consolation victory. There is no panic between the players, however. Because it is still so early in the season, they are still adjusting to playing together for the first time. Bader knows it is never easy to adjust to a new partner, but he has confidence that he and Trkulja will continue to improve.
“It’s always difficult adjusting to a new partner, different personalities and different styles,” Bader said. “[Trkulja] made the transition really easy. He’s really open to advice and learning.”
Both players believe that they complement each other well, agreeing that Bader’s skills at the net work well with Trkulja’s great baseline game. Trkulja, a freshman from Toronto, Canada, added that they both do similar things well, too.
Head coach Jeff Zinn knew that the pair was not going to come in and immediately dominate. It is a long road getting comfortable with a new doubles partner, and Zinn is hopeful that by the end of the fall, they will be completely prepared to start the regular season.
“I think it’s going to take to time to gel with their chemistry,” Zinn said. “Hopefully by the end of the fourth tournament, they’ve got that chemistry.”
This doubles team should play at least four tournaments this fall. Penn State as a team will play in eight.
Also playing in the Championships will be Tomas Hanzlik, a sophomore from Prague, Czech Republic, and Bryan Welnetz, a senior from Laredo, TX. All four players will be competing in singles over the weekend and then moving on to doubles during the week.
Hanzlik had a very strong showing at the Ranked plus One Tournament in Charlottesville, Va., last week. He made it all the way to the final before finally being defeated by Virginia’s Alex Domijan, the top seed in the bracket. Welnetz finished the tournament with a respectable two wins.
This tournament is a chance to get more experience against some of the stiffest competition in the country and is a huge opportunity for these players to show what they can accomplish. However, with a long way still to go before the spring season, any player on the team can still work his way up the depth chart and achieve a more prominent role on the team come this spring, according to Zinn.
“My motto has always been let your racket do the talking for you,” Zinn said. “All the players on the team have an opportunity to show how strong they are against other competition from other universities.”