Experience, improvement will be key for men’s tennis

Experience, improvement will be key for mens tennis

by Tim LoneStaff Writer

As the season begins for the 2008 men’s tennis team, the biggest hurdle will be their inexperience. Junior Russell Place, sophomore David Albrecht and senior Brad Wilharber are the only returning players for the team.

Bob Nutgrass, head men’s tennis coach, talked about the team’s inexperience heading into the season. Nutgrass said that one of the biggest expectations he has for the team this season is that they improve every time they step on the court.

“One of the goals I have is that every time we play we want to improve,” Nutgrass said. “Obviously, your competition dictates that. If you’re playing somebody really strong, it’s going to be a struggle to improve, but that is a goal.”

Senior newcomer Neil Bontrager’s comments followed the same pattern as Nutgrass. Bontrager said improvement is key, especially since there are several inexperienced players on the team this year, a category he says he falls into.

“We have a younger team, with some more inexperienced players like myself,” Bontrager said. “The main thing is trying to learn and gain as much improvement as possible each day.”

Nutgrass said other than consistent improvement from the team, he’s looking for the team to win roughly 50 percent of their matches. Other than a 50/50 record, he says he just wants the team to go out and play hard every match.

“Finishing in the top half of the conference and being about 500 for the matches is a goal,” Nutgrass said. “And I want to have the guys play hard.”

Place said some of the goals he has for the team include playing well against some of the top conference opponents and making the conference tournament, something the team has succeeded at recently.

“Obviously making the conference tournament and being in the top six would be a good accomplishment,” Place said. “That would make it three years in a row since I’ve been here. I hope we have a nice conference record and compete well with Central, Luther and Coe.”

Place added that, although the team is somewhat inexperienced, he hopes that after gaining some experience, the younger, inexperienced players will be able to make more of a contribution to the team.

“I think by the time the team has played a couple of meets, the younger guys should have their feet wet and be able to contribute more,” Place said.

Bontrager said that, although the team is fairly inexperienced, one of the things that will help them this year is drawing from the experience of some of the older, experienced players. Bontrager added that even though some of the players may not have some college experience, they will at least have some experience to draw from.

“The strengths for us will probably be just having a lot of guys that have some good experience, both from playing in high school and playing here as well,” Bontrager said.

Nutgrass made very similar comments, saying that the returning players will be one of the major strong points for the team this year. He said that their prior experience will help them to play well and know what’s coming.

“The returning players will be a strength,” Nutgrass said. “They kind of know what to expect and I think they’ll be able to compete well.”