Start of Tennis Season Like ‘Walking Into An Amusement Park’

By Mason Kelley

When Matt Anger was asked to describe how he felt about Washington’s 2015 tennis season, the men’s coach compared it to walking into an amusement park.

“There’s going to be a roller coaster ride here and there, but I see fun happening,” said Anger, a few days before the Huskies’ season opener at 2 p.m. Saturday against Portland State at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.

After missing the postseason for the first time in Anger’s 20-year tenure at Washington last season, the coach brought in a trio of talented freshmen who fit well with the program’s veteran players.

Anger said he has been impressed with how competitive the Huskies have been in practice. The team’s athletes have been embracing, and enjoying, the daily grind of getting prepared for the season.

Now that it is time for the program’s first team match of the year Anger, “can’t wait to get back in it. We get these five months where we get the team matches. For me, it’s a lot of fun.”

The Huskies bring back a trio of seniors with postseason experience in Emmett Egger and Jeff Hawke. The senior doubles pair brings a strong combination of leadership and talent to the program. Anger said he also expects senior Viktor Farkas to have the best season of his career.

But, while the veterans bring leadership, the freshmen have been impressive in practice.

Mitch Stewart, a five-star recruit from Federal Way, has the mix of athleticism and competitive fire to help him contribute right away.

“When I talk about his ability to run, I joke that the Earth is 2/3rds covered by water and he will run down anything in the other 1/3,” Anger said. “The guy runs well, but he competes even better.

Stewart’s roommate is teammate Jake Douglas, who is from Southern California. Anger called the freshman the tennis equivalent of a basketball “gym rat.”

“He has jumped up from when we signed him,” Anger said. “When I saw him this summer, I was like, ‘Wow, Jake has put in a lot of work.’ I have to tell him not to practice.”

The program also recently added a third freshman in Joao Barra.

Anger likes the talent on his roster, but what really excites the coach is his players’ willingness to get better.

“They can’t wait to get out there,” he said. “They can’t wait to compete.”

It will take some time for Anger to be able to set true expectations for this group, but he is certain of one thing: “We’re going to be better,” he said. “The talent is good, and getting better.”

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