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The Scarlet & Black

Tennis Attempts sixth conference championships

After finishing 16-9 and going 4-0 in divisional play, the men’s tennis team will venture to Madison, Wis. this weekend to try to capture their sixth consecutive conference championship.

“It will all depend on how well we play,” said number one ranked singles player Juan Carlos Perez ’11. “If we are focused and we bring our best, it should not be an issue to win conference.”

To prepare for the postseason, the team has faced quality competition all year including a match last Saturday against the ninth-ranked team in the region, Luther College. In the match, which took place in Rochester, Minn., Grinnell fell to Luther in a 5-4 decision. The Pioneers were able to capture points from the top three singles positions as well as number one doubles.

“We are a young team and we are very good at the bottom, we happened to lose to Luther but those guys are seemingly learn how to play better,” said Co-captain and number one doubles player Dan LaFountaine ’09. “It won’t hurt us at conference championship, in fact, I expect those guys to carry the team.”

Earlier in the year, the team beat the two other top teams in conference—St. Norbert College and Lawrence University to the tune of 9-0, 9-0. If the Pioneers are able to capture another championship, they will become only the second team in the Midwest Conference to do so. Ripon College ripped off eight consecutive championship wins from 1985-1992.

With the team at full health going into conference and the clear favorites due to their conference play, the Pioneers could make a return to the NCAA regionals, where the team lost 5-1 to Washington University last season.

“Last year we underperformed to some degree, but we ended up putting up an amazing end of the season run,” LaFountaine said.

This year, the team has played much of their non-conference schedule against regionally ranked teams, including nationally ranked No. 2 Washington University, whom they lost to 8-1 earlier in the season.

“I pitched a pretty difficult schedule at the team,” Coach Andy Hamilton said. “But what we’ve seen is the younger players have benefited by the difficult schedule and the veteran players have really stepped up.”

While the team is very young, the men have been getting better throughout the season and are prepared for the upcoming postseason.

“I think our team is very deep, we have three freshmen playing in our lineup right now,” Perez said. “With time they are going to develop their game like I did last year.”

Additional Reporting by Michael Schoelz

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