Men’s tennis hopes to improve record after disappointing start

Men's tennis hopes to improve record after disappointing start

by Kristin SimpsonStaff Writer

The men’s tennis team fights to meet its own expectations while the women’s side finished right where predicted.

March 22 the men’s tennis team hosted Graceland. The Storm were defeated 9-0. The University of Dubuque also traveled to Indianola where Simpson triumphed 6-3 on March 23.

Juniors Matt Johnson, Mitch Peerbolte and Martin Zivadinovic, along with freshman Tim Claussen all contributed a win to the team in singles competition. In doubles, Johnson and Claussen paired up to prevail over Dubuque, alongside the duo of Peerbolte and junior Brad Wilharber.

Freshman Joey Verrant leads the Storm with the best overall singles record of 4-2 following the match against Dubuque.

Verrant and Zivadinovic are at the top of the doubles with a record of 4-1. Overall, men’s tennis can claim a record of 3-7, which is somewhat of a disappointment, according to Bob Nutgrass, head men’s tennis coach and director of tennis operations.

“I think we probably had hoped for a better record up to this point,” Nutgrass said.

Although Peerbolte agrees, he believes the team can overcome past falls.

“I don’t think (the season has) been quite up to what we expected,” Peerbolte said. “We’ve had a couple of speed bumps, nothing huge. I think we can get over them easily. Every once in a while, like every other team, we have differences, but when we get on the court it’s all tennis.”

Right now, the team is trying to keep the spirit alive. As the players battle outside pressures, such as school, work, and fatigue, they are attempting to keep things interesting on the court. Nutgrass claims that this happens every year.

“We’re getting to the plateau part of the season, the time in the season when we get some burnout going,” Nutgrass said. “That’s the hardest thing to fight off. We’re trying to get the guys over boredom.”

The Storm is hoping to dominate the remainder of the games leading up to the conference tournament. Simpson will host Central College on April 12. Then it’s off to Mt. Vernon to face Cornell College on April 14. On April 21, men’s tennis will meet Loras College and Dubuque at Dubuque. April 26-28 marks the IIAC tournament.

“It will take an upset for us to beat (Central) because they’ve beaten us already,” Nutgrass said. “If we can win the rest it will give us good momentum into conference.”

On the women’s side, an upset or two would also have been nice, according to senior Rachel Morrissey.

“We were pretty satisfied with our season,” Morrissey said. “We beat the teams we were supposed to beat and placed what we were seeded in the conference, so I guess we did what we were supposed to do. It would have been nice if we beat a team we weren’t necessarily supposed to beat.”

The women’s tennis team was usually able to hold its ground, according to Morrissey. She believes the team competed well even against teams and players that were better. In close matches, however, she claims that Simpson often gave up a few inches from time to time.

“Our team struggled with consistency and winning the close matches,” Morrissey said. “We tried to put ourselves in pressure situations at practice to mimic the situations we found ourselves in the close matches.”

March 22, the Storm lost to Graceland at home, 9-0. Hosting Augustana March 29, Simpson proved victorious, 5-4. Morrissey, junior Martha Davis and sophomores Alissa Nance and Gwen Kingsbury won in the singles competition. Morrissey and Nance claimed Simpson’s only win in doubles.

Overall, Head Women’s Coach Pat Heller is pleased with the season. Finishing the year with a record of 8-10, he believes the women improved.

“It’s been a good year, and now we are going to have to replace our two outstanding graduating seniors,” Heller said. “One of the seniors, Jen Gibson, has been a four year letter-winner and academic and athletic All-Conference. And the other senior, Rachel Morrissey, has been the best overall player I’ve seen here with wins against St. Ambrose, Luther and Loras.”

Even though the team is losing some of its stars, Heller believes there is hope.

“The group of players we have coming back has a great work ethic, and I look for them to have a continued success,” Heller said.