On a warm Thursday in February, the men’s tennis team had an afternoon practice just like any other. The only difference was instead of playing inside of Cowles Fieldhouse, the team scraped the melting snow off the outdoor courts as temperatures approached the 50 -degree-mark.
This dedication is what has impressed first-year coach Daniel Finn so much to this point about the young men he is coaching.
“As you can see, they really are an over-achieving bunch,” Finn said.
Since the second week of the semester, the team has been working out and practicing indoors, led by Finn. So far, the team has been equally impressed with the work Finn has done for the team. Sophomore Noah Saunders is one player who has liked the coaching from Finn thus far.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s dedicated and wants to turn some heads on campus about the tennis team.” Saunders said. “I have been very happy with what he’s done so far.”
Junior Kyle Shilling, who will be Saunders’ doubles partner, has also enjoyed the leadership of Finn up to this point.
“I like him a lot,” Shilling said. “He really knows what he’s talking about and comes from a winning program, so he brings that to the table. I like the fact that he is only three or four years older than us ,because he really can relate to us.”
Throughout the spring, the tennis team plans on competing in over 20 different matches. The team will travel throughout the state of Iowa and take trips to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois.
So far, the team consists of eight players, with four being freshmen. Finn has been open to having tryouts with anybody who wants to join the team.
“I’m considering it,” Finn said. “I’m not going to turn anybody away that wants to come and try out.”
Finn, Saunders and Shilling all have many personal and team goals that they look forward to accomplishing.
“My goal is to beat Central and turn this team into a team of champions,” Saunders said. “I want to win!”
For the team, Finn has high expectations as well.
“The team is really maturing fast every day,” Finn said. “My expectations are high.”
Shilling is hoping to go far as well.
“Doubles-wise, I’d like to finish in the top four with Noah [Saunders],” Shilling said. “Team-wise I think we could finish in the top four of the conference.”
The team competed in their first match on Sunday against Hastings College in Red Oak, Iowa.
After the many matches that the team will compete in throughout the season, the IIAC team tournament will take place on April 30 in Iowa City. The University of Dubuque will be the host. The following two days after the team tournament, on May 1-2, the individual tournament will take place in Cedar Rapids. The University of Dubuque will also be the host there.