Men’s tennis team looks forward to conference tournament

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by Cassie Norman

A young Simpson men’s tennis team continues to work hard in practice and improve as it prepares for the upcoming matches and the conference tournament, which will be played in two weeks.

This year’s tournament is being hosted by Coe and will be held in Cedar Rapids from April 27-29. During the three-day event, numerous matches will be held. The men’s team is working hard to finish out the season strong and get a good seed going into the tournament.

“We’re doing a lot of drills in practice, sophomore Matt Johnson said. “We’ve been doing some extra conditioning. The week at conference is grueling.”

The team’s current record of 4-9 can partly be explained by their inexperience.

With only one senior, five sophomores and one freshman, the team is very young. Other factors have also hindered the team, making it hard for them to compete.

The team has been forced to play many of its matches without some of its players, including sophomore Matt Leavenworth who has been out for two weeks.

Although only five team members were able to go, the team took a spring break trip to Florida for the first time. According to Men’s Tennis Coach Bob Nutgrass, the trip was a great experience.

“We played really good tennis,” Nutgrass said. “Unfortunately we only had five players, so we lost all of our matches.”

Despite some of the obstacles, the team has had fun and pulled together.

“We’ve come together well,” sophomore Mitch Peerbolte said. “Practices are going good. It’s fun. I have a lot of good times with my fellow team members. We all get along.”

The team’s main strengths lie in its players, though they are young, and the competitive schedule they face. The team has struggled with doubles matches, but plays well when it comes to singles.

“One of our strengths is our singles play,” Nutgrass said. “We play pretty competitive. The middle of our lineup is strong. Our schedule is also a strength. We may not have a winning record, but I believe you only get better by playing good teams.”

As the season continues, the team will be focusing on eliminating its weaknesses. Each practice the team comes out with drive to improve and get better.

According to Nutgrass, the team needs to work on its consistency, and on not rushing their game. They can also focus on taking advantage of what the other team gives them. As with other sports, keeping mentally focused is key. It’s easy to get frustrated.

Johnson pointed out that the team has had some disappointing losses when they could have won.

“We need to be more consistent and close out the matches,” Johnson said. “There’s been times when we’ve been ahead and then lost the match.”

While it may be frustrating, tennis is a game these men have come to enjoy.

“I like the individual aspect,” Johnson said. “You can’t blame anyone else for your mistakes. I like the head-to-head competition. It’s the best.”