The Simpsonian

Storm tennis in the midst of a tough stretch, lost six straight

Photo%3A+Austin+Hronich%2FThe+Simpsonian
Photo: Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian

Photo: Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian

Photo: Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian

by Cole Poots, Staff Reporter

The men’s tennis team hit a rough patch in the middle of the season. Losing seven out of their last eight matchups, the Storm haven’t won since Feb. 24 when they beat Wisc-Lutheran 9-0.

The team faced some stiff conference competition during its six-game losing streak. This include its defeat against Coe, who is ranked number one in the IIAC and riding a six-game winning streak with an impressive 17-4 record on the season, and Central, who sits fourth in the IIAC.

Their most recent match was against Wartburg, who sit just two spots ahead of the Storm in the IIAC standings at the fifth spot in the conference and have also racked up a respectable four-game winning streak.

The team knew this tough stretch was coming, and head coach Matt Price said he purposely schedules the season this way so his group can shake off the rust against good competition in preparation for the last month of the regular season.

“The six teams that we’ve lost to are teams that we knew were going to step up this year, especially around this time of year,” Price said. “I schedule those matches and non-conference matches to improve these guys’ game. You improve by playing tougher competition.”

Price said despite this tough stretch of competition, he believes he’s seen improvements since last year and has the confidence that his team will be prepared for these last three weeks of the season.

“These guys continue to compete and get better in practice,” Price said. “We’re hoping these last three weeks will have matches for our guys to play to the best of their abilities.”

Coach Price said with four out of their last six competitions being home matches, this should be an opportune time for his squad to capitalize and win some key matchups to strengthen their conference tournament hopes.

“These next three weeks are critical for these guys,” Price said. “Our goal is to make the conference tournament. We have to take advantage of the teams we’re capable of beating.”

Weather has been another area of concern for this team — being in Iowa means the weather is unpredictable. Junior Sam Dykstra, who has held the number one spot all season, said he feels like the team hasn’t been able to get a steady balance of playing outdoors yet.

“Our first outdoor meet of the year against Central was a little tough,” Dykstra said. “The conditions were not ideal, and we just didn’t play our best.”

Dykstra, who transferred to Simpson this year, said he still believes the team’s goal of making the conference tournament is intact and realizes the team has had a great year despite this six-game losing streak.

“Our goal is always to make the conference tournament at the end of the year, and I still think we can achieve that,” Dykstra said. “I wasn’t here last year, but from my understanding our team is definitely better than last year. I think we have a few new faces and we’re all still getting used to playing with each other.”

Despite Luther, who sits at third in the IIAC at 12-2, the Storm will have a relatively easy road ahead for these last three weeks.

The Storm will face conference opponents Dubuque, Nebraska Wesleyan and Buena Vista who have a combined record of 7-27.

Price said his team will realistically need three more conference wins to make the tournament, and he knows they have what it takes to get them against their competition the rest of the season.

“You’ve got to get at least get three wins in the conference,” Price said. “That may not get you in, but that gives you a very good chance of getting in.”

There are nine teams in the conference with only six spots available for the postseason.

Men’s tennis competes against Nebraska Wesleyan on Sunday, April 15 at home.

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