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Men’s tennis sweeps Oshkosh, falls to Graceland

Christopher H. Lee
Tommy Pitcher ’17, who picked up a win in doubles win last weekend, practicing Wednesday. Photo by Jenny Chi

Men’s tennis opened up their season on Jan. 31 with two matches: versus the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Graceland University. In the first match, Grinnell easily defeated NCAA Division III UW-Oshkosh 9-0 while in the second match they fell 1-8 to Graceland.

Tommy Pitcher ’17, who picked up a win in doubles win last weekend, practicing Wednesday.  Photo by Jenny Chi
Tommy Pitcher ’17, who picked up a win in doubles win last weekend, practicing Wednesday.
Photo by Jenny Chi

In the opening meet versus Oshkosh, Elliott Czarnecki ’15 (6-4, 6-3), Cole Miller ’17 (6-2, 6-1), Aaron Lapkin ’15 (6-1, 6-2), Charlie Wilhelm ’15 (6-2, 6-2), C.J. Ray ’16 (6-2, 6-1) and Rob Storrick ’15 (6-1, 6-1) were all victorious in singles. The Pioneers also swept doubles with Czarnecki and Tommy Pitcher ’17 winning 8-2 at No. 1 doubles, Tracy Johnson ’16 and Emilio Gomez ’15 winning 8-4 at No. 2 doubles and Miller and Ray winning 8-3 at No. 3 doubles.

“It was kind of to be expected,” Miller said of the match.

In their second match of the day, the Pioneers fell to Graceland by a score of 1-8, with the lone win coming from Gomez and Johnson at No. 2 doubles (8-4).

“We were beaten by a very talented Graceland squad,” said Head Coach Andy Hamilton ’85, “We were very competitive in all the matches, so I think that’s a testament to what a veteran team we are.”

Graceland is a member of The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, meaning their level of play is closer to that of a NCAA Division II team.

“It would have been nice to have beaten Graceland, but I wasn’t 100 percent surprised that we lost. They’re a good team,” Pitcher said.

This isn’t the first time Grinnell has played Graceland. Last year, the Pioneers lost a close 4-5 match. Despite their loss this year, the team does not consider the Graceland match to be a waste.

“We tried really hard and had a really good time,” Miller said. “It was really good practice actually, I got to learn a lot from the other team, and how they move and where they’re hitting balls … it was a good learning process.”

While good tennis was played across the board, Hamilton noted a few standouts, including Czarnecki, Pitcher, Gomez and Johnson.

“I was particularly pleased with the play of Elliott Czarnecki at No. 1 singles,” Hamilton said, “I was also very pleased with our  No. 1 doubles play … with Czarnecki and Tommy Pitcher.”

Pitcher agreed with this sentiment, saying that he and Czarnecki have gotten off to a strong start to the season.

“Me and Elliott played some pretty solid doubles. Last season we didn’t get off to as strong of a start,” Pitcher said.

Looking forward, men’s tennis has some exciting things on the horizon. On Sunday, Feb. 8, the team is playing two separate matches. Half of the team will play at home against Truman State University while the other half will travel to Rochester, Minnesota to play against the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The reason for this move is because of the number of talented players on Grinnell’s roster.

“We have 19 varsity-caliber players on our team, and typically if a team has ten varsity players that’s a good, deep team,” Hamilton said, “We split the squad and we try and get more guys an opportunity to play.”

On Sunday, play in Rochester versus UW-Eau Claire begins at 8 a.m. and play in Grinnell versus Truman State begins at 9 a.m.

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