Men’s tennis works to build after tough start

by Lara GillespieStaff Writer

After a slow start with only six players, the men’s tennis team is looking to pick things up in matches with improvement in practice.

“Practices are going very well and the guys are working hard,” Bob Nutgrass, head men’s and women’s tennis coach and physical education department chair, said. “We’re trying to carry over what we’re doing in practice to matches.”

Some specific things the Storm is working on include serving, putting the ball away at the net, being consistent, making the shot, angle shots and ball placement.

“Basically, our emphasis is on playing every point the best you can play every point,” Nutgrass said. “We just want to compete and let the wins and losses take care of themselves.”

Senior Brad Wilharber thinks everyone has already improved a lot since the beginning of the season, and things will only get better with more match experience and practice.

“Everyone has a weakness in their game and I think we do a good job in practice of focusing in on those individual weaknesses and improving upon them each day,” Wilharber said. “As a team, we’re just looking to be more consistent and keep ourselves in matches.”

Junior Russell Place believes things will eventually fall into place.

“We’ve just had crucial moments where we haven’t been able to follow through, but there’s going to come a time this year where it’s going to happen and we’re going to get a few wins we probably shouldn’t,” Place said.

After the first few matches of the season the Storm went 0-3, but is working to pick up some wins as the season progresses.

“We’re hoping to have four or five wins,” Nutgrass said. “The rest of the teams we play are really strong, but there is always a group of teams you hope to beat every year, and that’s why we compete-to go there and see what we can do. You never know what’s going to happen.”

A major factor affecting play in matches has been the small numbers. With only six players-three of which are newcomers–the team is trying to gain more experience each day.

“We’re hoping that through matches in practice and putting them in situations in practice where they have to compete and come up with winning points that it’s going to carry over,” Nutgrass said.

The small team is also put into a bind if a single player cannot make it.

“If one or two guys get sick or hurt, it affects the whole outcome of what might happen in the match,” Nutgrass said. “The other part is that it changes what I can do in practice.”

Junior Alex Koder agrees that the small numbers have large impact if anyone is gone.

“Having only six guys is a bit difficult; we always need everybody when we go to a meet,” Koder said. “If any player is sick or has a conflict, the entire team has to work through it or else we’re all in trouble.”

Having only six players allows the team to know everyone’s ability.

“Although it’s a struggle only having six people we also know more about each other than we would with a bigger team,” Place said.

The Storm’s next matches will be at Simpson on Friday, Feb. 29 at 8:30 a.m. against Buena Vista and at 2:30 p.m. against Cornell.