swept away by Chris Aumueller the following day in straight sets, but it didn’t faze the VCU captain.
“I was just happy to be out there,” Charron said. “[Getting] the first win after a long break like that is good for confi- dence.”
Charron’s game was rusty, but as the fall closed, he began to regain his fitness. He finished with a 4-2 record in limited action and, most importantly, he knee was pain-free.
lacked aerobically, Charron countered with a razor-sharp focus and a brawler’s spirit.
Consistency had been fleeting for Charron in his previous two seasons. Entering the 2009-10 school year, Charron owned a pedestrian 24-23 career singles record, including an 0-6 mark against players ranked in the top 125 nationally. Physically, the skills were there, but the results weren’t.
“There were so many ups and downs in my focus,” Charron said. “I wanted to play like the pros play. I was making some great winners, but in the end, you get some tight matches against some average players and you lose, and sometimes you lose confidence and lose some matches you should win.
“Now, from the first point, I’m much more of a fighter than I used to be.”
The spring season began in late January, and by mid-February, Charron began to dominate like never before. He was already 8-2 in the spring when he embarked on a three-week stretch that saw him defeat seven of eight ranked oppo- nents, including No. 3 Sanam Singh of Virginia on March 24. All seven wins came in straight sets, and the only loss was a 7-6, 6-4 decision to No. 88 Marcelo Arevalo of Tulsa.
“I won so many matches in two sets, and that’s never happened to me before. I’m focused from the first point, and I try to be focused until the end,” Charron said. “Before, I was going three sets against average players and coach was telling me, ‘You lost against this guy or that guy and you should’ve won.’”
With his tennis career nearly snatched from underneath him, Kostin believes Charron is playing with a renewed love for the game.
“His outlook on tennis is his biggest improvement,” Kostin said. “I think he’s playing a little bit more within himself and he’s enjoying the game a little bit more. His first two years he was kind of putting too much pressure on himself.”
Charron later picked up two wins in the CAA Tournament to help the Rams to their 12th league title in 15 years and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. With Charron watching from the sidelines, VCU dropped a 4-3 decision in the 2009 CAA Championship match to UNC Wilmington. That loss kept the Rams out of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 17 years and Charron was determined not to let that happen again.
“I’ve never been as pumped as that week of the conference tournament,” he said. “I put so much pressure on myself. I didn’t play well, but I was just cheering for the guys like crazy.”
With a 23-6 singles record and No. 25 ranking, Charron will be headed to both the NCAA Team and Individual Tourna- ments, where he hopes to make a deep run. VCU has not had an All-American since Charron’s countryman, Arnaud Le Cloerec, in 2006. Charron would need to reach the Sweet 16 of the singles tournament to accomplish that feat, but at this point, nothing is off the table.
“I think he’s good enough to play with anybody,” Kostin said. “He’s not top-25 for nothing. He has the tools to go very far.”
In the meantime, a new Charron was starting to emerge. What he
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