Athlete of the Week: Skalland Shines as player, leader


by Carrie LaGree

Sophomore tennis sensation Sam Skalland leads the men’s tennis team both on and off the court.

The Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference named Skalland the conference’s Men’s Tennis Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 17.

The Storm opened their season with three duals Feb. 15-16 at Decorah against Hamline, Minnesota-Morris and Buena Vista.

As a team, Simpson ended the weekend 1-2. Skalland plays number one singles and number one doubles for Simpson and he finished 2-1 in both singles and doubles.

Coach Bob Nutgrass said Skalland had the “most impressive three matches” on the team.

Skalland excelled in his singles matches, easily beating Buena Vista’s number one singles player Nate Stuck 6-2, 6-4 and beat NCAA Division II Minnesota-Morris’s number one singles player 6-2, 3-6, 10-6.

Freshman Andrew Merrill helped Skalland post his two doubles victories. Skalland and Merrill posted an 8-3 victory over NCAA Division II Minnesota-Morris’s number one doubles team. They also beat IIAC foe Buena Vista’s number one doubles team 8-3.

Merrill and Skalland played doubles together in high school at St. Pius the tenth in Kansas City, MO. Nutgrass said he will likely split Skalland and Merrill as a doubles team for the rest of the season.

Although Skalland is a sophomore and has only one season of varsity college experience, he is co-captain of this year’s team with senior James McNeal.

As a freshman Skalland set a school record for most wins in a single season with 17. Despite playing with three different doubles partners over the season, Skalland ended with a doubles record of 14-6.

Nutgrass describes Skalland as “real intense.” “His intensity helps make him a good team leader on the court,” said Nutgrass. “His fundamentals and court sense are outstanding and he does a great job of being positive and supportive of the whole team.”