Men’s tennis sees improvement from last season

by Lexie HagertyStaff Writer

The Simpson men’s tennis team has already improved their record from last year with nine meets remaining.

The Storm’s overall record so far this season is 4-7, an improvement from last year’s no-win season.

“I wasn’t here last year, but from what I hear, the difference from last year is astronomical,” coach Daniel Finn said.

This is Finn’s first year coaching the Storm.

“I really want to make a statement and get us above 500,” Finn said. “That is my one and only goal, to start winning some matches.”

Sophomore Noah Saunders said the team has progressed a lot even since the fall.

“Coach has definitely fired up the intensity on the team,” Saunders said. “He instills a winning mentality into each individual player. Leave everything on the court and settle for nothing less than 110 percent.”

Saunders leads the team with five individual wins and six doubles wins. He said one of his goals is to make the top three in the conference.

Junior Kyle Shilling said Finn has helped his individual game as well.

“He has taken a personal interest in every individual player, not just going through the motions as a coach,” Shilling said.

Finn came to Simpson this year after student coaching at Lindsey Wilson College for both the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Finn played at Lindsey Wilson as an undergraduate, and helped lead the team to four Mid-South Conference Championships. In 2005, his team reached the quarterfinals of the NAIA National Tournament after earning NAIA Region XI honors.

Finn said some of the players have stepped up and assumed the leadership position that he wanted.

“There isn’t just one leader,” Finn said. “It’s a family.”

Both Shilling and Saunders said even with the constant improvement, the season could be going a little better.

“There has been a lot of improvement as far as ability goes for every player on the team,” Shilling said. “But no one plays an entire match at one time. We relax after we get a lead and then it goes away.”

According to Finn, singles play is the team’s strong point, and their doubles teams are doing well.

“They play for each other,” Finn said. “It’s a coach’s dream.”

Shilling disagreed however, saying that doubles is more of the team’s strong point.

“None of us are patient enough to play singles,” Shilling said.

Shilling said, though, he is sure the team will get better under Finn’s leadership.

“He has a lot of connections,” Shilling said. “The team will be a lot better in a couple of years.”

Finn said coaching at Simpson is a big opportunity and a chance for him to contribute a new voice to the program.

“I took the opportunity to use my youth and enthusiasm to help,” Finn said. “It’s what most coaches want to do – build something.”

The Storm will travel to the IIAC team tournament hosted by Dubuque College in Iowa City on April 30, and the individual and doubles IIAC tournament hosted by Dubuque in Cedar Rapids on May 1- 2.