Men are looking to excel, compete on a new level this season

by Ben Lucas

Simpson College’s men’s tennis has started its 2011 season with a full roster and improved conditioning.

The advantages the team has over its state last year are greatly improved with a full roster. Bill Wright, head men’s tennis coach, knows that this allows the team to excel and compete on a different level from last year.

“We are entering this spring season with a full team, which we did not have last year,” Wright said. “Having a full team has a lot of advantages that we were not afforded last year. Our practices are more competitive, more players are pushing each other in drills and conditioning is infectious. Our team is in better physical shape than we were last year up and I credit that to the team because they worked hard to get in better shape.”

Wright is also pleased with the way the new and old talent in the team is shaping up.

“We have outstanding senior and junior leadership with a nice addition of underclassmen,” Wright said. “The freshmen class has had a great deal of impact on our team and that is always nice to have when you are trying to build up a program. It is an excellent mix.”

Junior Adam Summitt believes that the key to success this year also lies in maintaining focus throughout the match.

“I think we all need to work on our mental game,” Summitt said. “We all have moments where we mentally shut down in a match and even if it’s for a point or two it can dramatically change the outcome. We have to stay sharp for every point of every match.”

Junior Dan Schneider believes that chemistry is building and finding everyone’s role will make an impact though it will take time.

“Since we only had four players on the team last season, I think with the added freshmen we need to focus on chemistry and working together,” Schneider said. “Seeing who plays well together for doubles teams and what our lineup should look like will take most of the season to determine.”

Since the start of the spring season Simpson has lost to St. Ambrose and Ashford, though Wright believes these to have been much closer meets than they would be last year.

“We have a goal to be more competitive in dual matches,” Wright said. “We have already done this as we played fairly well versus St. Ambrose in our first match this spring and played very well versus Ashford University, losing 7-2 but having two other matches go to third set tiebreakers.”

Wright knows that building the program will be no easy task in a conference this difficult.

“The Iowa Conference is a very tough conference with excellent coaches and players up and down the conference ladder,” Wright said. “Luther and Coe will once again be the top teams in the conference, but I expect Central, Wartburg, Dubuque and Cornell to also challenge.”

Simpson’s next meet takes place in Lincoln, Neb. against Midland-Lutheran on Feb. 25 and then Doane the next day.