Men’s tennis enters heart of conference schedule while women enter non-traditional season meets

by Bryan GeelanStaff Writer

Because of alternating schedules, the men and women’s tennis teams are at different points in their seasons. The men are just underway in conference play, while the women are looking to make some noise in their non-traditional season, having finished the conference season in October.

Right now, the men have a 1-3 record in conference play and are 2-6 overall. The men’s seasons has been a bit of a surprise to Men’s Head Coach Bob Nutgrass.

“Doubles have been surprisingly good for us,” Nutgrass said. “I thought early in the season that was going to be a weak point for us and that singles would be strong.”

However, that has not been the case. Simpson players have a combined record of 22-26 in doubles compared to only 16-31 in singles.

“We have a tendency to lose close matches,” Nutgrass said. “It’s a matter of mental toughness and focusing.”

A contributing factor for the close losses is the lack of experience on the team. The squad consists of four juniors, one sophomore and four freshmen.

“We are a young team, (but) we are getting better each meet,” junior Brad Wilharber said. “By the end of the year we will see some of those matches going our way.”

Currently sitting at sixth place in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC), Simpson would like to fight their way into the top three by the end of the season.

The team will be chasing perennial powerhouses Luther and Coe.

“Luther and Coe are really tough teams, even on a national level,” Wilharber said. “Third is what we are shooting for.”

With the women already having completed their conference season, they are looking to the non-traditional season to tie up some loose ends from the regular season.

The Simpson women finished sixth place in the IIAC, just missing a spot in the conference tournament in which the top four finishers participate.

“We played pretty well throughout the season,” junior Martha Davis said. “I don’t think anyone was unhappy with our performance.”

The women have been playing both formal and informal matches for the past several weeks. They have been playing well, only having lost one match as a team.

The Storm also had the opportunity to play some matches in Florida over spring break as well. The Storm will play host to Graceland today.

Both the men’s and the women’s team will have the opportunity to play on Simpson’s new tennis courts, which will be dedicated during the week of graduation.

“We will start playing on (the new surface) after spring break,” Nutgrass said.

The re-surfacing did not turn out perfectly, as there are some imperfections that need to be taken care of on the courts. However, because of the new courts, Simpson will get to host more matches than they have in the past.

Prior to this year, the Storm has had to play some “home” games in Pella.

“I think the whole team is excited,” Wilharber said. “It’s always an advantage to be playing on your home turf.”