Women’s tennis strives to bounce back from tough schedule

by Kristin SimpsonStaff Writer

The tough schedule thus far has made for a difficult season for women’s tennis, according to senior Martha Davis and junior Gwen Kingsbury.

Bob Nutgrass, head tennis coach and Physical Education Department chair, agrees. Although the season is not going as well as hoped, he does believe the immediate future should be brighter.

“”We have played the toughest conference opponents and had a huge win over Wartburg on [Sept. 19],” Nutgrass said. “Things should be looking up for us the last three weeks. We have had some great matches and the tough schedule should prepare us for the end of the season and conference.”

Davis says it gets difficult mentally when playing so many tough teams. Working hard and staying positive keep the team going.

“It’s so tough to lose match after match,” Davis said. “We’re an easy-going team that can bounce back. We will bounce back. We’re looking forward to surprising people when conference time comes.”

Kingsbury also emphasizes playing hard and staying mentally strong. She believes that the well-rounded team can continue to improve.

“We’re all working hard, so now that we have some of these tough teams out of the way we’ll have a better chance of doing better,” Kingsbury said. “We want everybody to feel like they played really well. If that happens and we win, that’s great; if we lose we know we tried our hardest. I think we just need to work on our mental focus because I know we can do it.”

According to Nutgrass, the goal is to improve on each performance by getting better each time they play. He encourages his players to play each opponent as tough as they can, exhibit great sportsmanship and enjoy the game of tennis. The Storm aims to finish in the top four at conference.

“The women are playing very hard and aggressive each match,” Nutgrass said. “Practices have been very good with hard work and excellent efforts each night. Doubles are coming around and singles have been strong for some. I emphasize playing hard and smart tennis, and for the most part, we are doing those very well.”

Nutgrass believes the two additions to the team, freshman Jill Berner and junior Jessica Lashier, are doing well and getting along with the rest of the team. Partly thanks to the team co-captains, Davis and junior Jessica Nims, camaraderie is strong and focused.

“[Berner and Lashier] are both making a positive impact on the team unity and I really like their competitive drive and never-give-up attitudes,” Nutgrass said. “The team’s co-captains have done an excellent job with team leadership and communication this year. I want to acknowledge their hard work and efforts in keeping the team working hard and committed to raising the level of play and competitive spirit this year.”

The new tennis complex, described as “awesome” by Nutgrass, has allowed the Storm to host home events on the new surface. Nutgrass hopes to begin hosting tournaments, clinics and more events for high school teams.

“After the very poor condition of the courts two seasons ago, the new complex is fantastic,” Nutgrass said. “The bleacher set up is very close to the action and the surface is one of the best in the conference, if not the entire state of Iowa. We have had many positive comments about how great the facility is now and with the black fencing and new surrounding areas, the environment is great.”

The new complex has made practice more convenient for the Storm. According to Davis, lights are on the way. The changes are anticipated not only by Simpson tennis, but by the Indianola community.

“We’re very lucky to have a new complex built,” Davis said. “Last year, we had to drive and go to the middle school courts every day for practice and for meets, so that was kind of annoying.”

The Storm brought in their second win on the new courts against Wartburg on Sept. 19. Berner, Kingsbury, Nims, and junior Alissa Nance all contributed to the win in the singles competition. In doubles, junior Jackie Suckow and Nance joined Berner and Kingsbury to round out the 6-3 victory.