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Men’s tennis falls to Coe, set for MWC

Rob+Storrick+%E2%80%9915+and+Bryson+Cale+%E2%80%9916+practices+a+rally+on+Tuesday%2C+April+22.+Photo+by+Shadman+Asif.+
Rob Storrick ’15 and Bryson Cale ’16 practices a rally on Tuesday, April 22. Photo by Shadman Asif.

In a battle of two regionally ranked teams, Grinnell’s men’s tennis team lost to Coe College at home 8-1 on Saturday, April 19. Coe, the eighth best team in the Central Region, dominated the 13th ranked Grinnell, but the Pioneers did now show signs of discontent after the loss. The match was Grinnell’s last of the regular season.

“We knew we were playing a more highly ranked team,” said head coach Andy Hamilton ’85. “Coe made it to the final 16 in the region last year. We knew it was going to be a tough task, but we also knew that our performance, whatever we could produce, was going to be looked at as favorable.”

Though the scores may indicate the loss was a lopsided one, the Pioneers were competitive in most of the matches, which included a contest against the third best singles player in the region.

“Coach reminds us it could have been a 5-4 win, if a few singles matches had gone our way and if doubles had gone our way,” said Tracy Johnson ’16, the lone winner of last weekend’s game. “There [are] a lot of positives to take away from it.”

Johnson had to work to win his match, which saw the third set go into multiple deuces. At the number five singles position, he won the grueling match 7-6, 4-6, 12-10.

“It was a really special way to end the regular season for me, just being down a couple match points and having the whole team watching because I was the last one on,” he said. “That was an awesome way to end it for me. It bodes well for our Conference Tournament this Friday.”

Johnson also praised highly the performance by C.J. Ray ’16. Despite the loss, the battle was a hard-fought one, according to Johnson.

“I was really happy with the way C.J. Ray played,” he said. “He’s been struggling with a knee injury all year, and to see him go out there and grind out three hard sets with a really good opponent, it was special for me.”

Rob Storrick ’15 and Bryson Cale ’16 practices a rally on Tuesday, April 22. Photo by Shadman Asif.
Rob Storrick ’15 and Bryson Cale ’16 practices a rally on Tuesday, April 22. Photo by Shadman Asif.

Last weekend’s loss put the Pioneers at an overall record of 29-5 and 4-0 in the Midwest Conference South Division, making this 14th consecutive season in which Grinnell has not lost to a division foe.

“Coe was probably the second or third best team which we played,” Hamilton said. “What was evident to me is that they executed their game plans well and struck the ball well. They didn’t have a lot of lost points due to their own errors.”

Grinnell will put last weekend’s loss aside and prepare for the Midwest Conference Tournament, held in Madison, Wis. Friday, April 25 to Sunday, April 27. Grinnell has won the past 10 consecutive Conferences, and the team has been preparing for what is expected to be yet another successful Conference.

“I personally have felt the pressure this year,” Hamilton said. “At least on paper we’re the best team. We haven’t lost, and so because of that there’s pressure to perform.”

According to Hamilton, preparation is two-fold. First, the team has been working to make sure that they are prepared to succeed in doubles because it will start the weekend with three doubles matches. Second, team members are training based on individual needs, such as consistency and serves.

This weekend, Grinnell will play against Lake Forest College, the number two team from the North Division, in the semifinals.

“I think the loss fuels us a bit more,” Johnson said. “It gives us a bit more to prove going into our Conference Tournament, which we know we can dominate if we play well.”

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