From kickboxing to playing the ukelele, Thibault Cancel of the Alabama men’s tennis team is a man of many passions. Despite a tough loss to the Michigan Wolverines, Cancel’s confidence and belief in his teammates leads him to think they are primed for a bounce-back performance.
“To rebound this weekend against Washington we will need to keep our minds right, staying focused on the match is almost as important as the play itself,” Cancel said.
The notion of looking ahead towards the matchup against the Washington Huskies proves that the Crimson Tide is ready to leave the past where it belongs and focus on the now. With a team that is littered with freshmen and sophomores, experience may not be on Alabama’s side, but the team does not lack confidence in itself.
“On paper we are better,” Cancel said. “We are hungry to get this win and we will need to play our best. This matchup against Washington is very important to us, we can’t wait to get onto the court.”
In a conference as tough as the SEC, with six teams in the top 25, confidence and the belief in oneself are essential to competing with such stout talent. It also doesn’t hurt to have the home crowd behind you and cheering you on and Cancel, a French native, has become a crowd favorite.
“I was surprised when I first saw it, then I took a good look at it and I realized it was me! I couldn’t believe it, it was amazing,” Cancel said with a jovial look on his face.
What Thibault is referring to is the giant fathead of his face that was trotted around the Roberta Alison Baumgardner tennis facility that brought on a roar of cheers and electrified the crowd. The fathead made its debut when the Crimson Tide took on the Samford University Bulldogs just two weeks back and has been a crowd pleaser since.
Alongside his special connection to the fans, Cancel has also developed a great camaraderie with his doubles partner Zhe Zhou. The pair have won two of their first three doubles matchups of the season and look to continue their strong start this weekend. Cancel attributes the success on the court with Zhou to an unanticipated reason.
“Since we are both from foreign countries we both understand the difficulties communication can be at times, but that has actually led to a better understanding of each other. On the court we complement each other well as [Zhou] is a wonderful player at the net and I play better by the baseline,” Cancel said.
With last week’s performance in the rearview mirror, Cancel and company will head to Athens, Georgia and look to rebound as they take on Washington early Friday morning. Then, on the following Saturday and Sunday, Alabama will face the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs, a daunting task that doesn’t seem to scare the Crimson Tide.
“We get to stack up against some of the best teams in the country this weekend, and it will bring out the best in us,” Cancel said.
In arguably the most competitive conference in the nation, Alabama will have a chance to stake its claim and be mentioned with the best teams in the SEC. But as the team knows, to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports