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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Tennis enjoys another perfect weekend

Christopher Hyunjin Lee
Elliott Czarnecki ’15 and Tommy Pitcher ’17 play versus Augustana College last weekend. Photo by Chris Lee
Elliott Czarnecki ’15 and Tommy Pitcher ’17 play versus Augustana College last weekend.  Photo by Chris Lee
Elliott Czarnecki ’15 and Tommy Pitcher ’17 play versus Augustana College last weekend.
Photo by Chris Lee

Men’s tennis is on fire. The Pioneers continued their Midwest Conference dominance in Illinois last weekend, sweeping Monmouth College and Knox College on Saturday and Illinois College on Sunday. The team also beat one of its challenging opponents, Augustana College, 8-1 at home using the split squad. Ranked 17th in the Central Region, Grinnell improved its overall record to 23-10.

The players breezed through their competition. Against Monmouth, Elliott Czarnecki ’15, Cole Miller ’17, Emilio Gomez ’15, Aaron Lapkin ’15, Tracy Johnson ’16 and Charlie Wilhelm ’15 picked up victories in singles. In doubles, the duos of Czarnecki and Tommy Pitcher ’17, Johnson and Gomez and Miller and CJ Ray ’16 all triumphed.

Only four hours later, the team was scheduled to play in Knox for another round of games. Despite the tough schedule, the team managed to show no trace of fatigue.

“It’s always tough to travel in between matches because it’s hard to maintain a level of focus for that long of a time. We just tried to relax and stay loose before warming up for Knox later in the day,” Johnson said.

The level of focus, however, carried through and and along with Czarnecki, the 21st best singles player in the Central Region, Miller, Wilhelm, Pitcher, Ray and Caleb Kumar ’16 claimed victories in singles. The Pioneers also won all three doubles matches.

On the following day, the Pioneers returned to Grinnell to face Augustana College. Again and with no surprise, the men cruised to victory. Czarnecki, Miller, Gomez, Lapkin, Johnson and Wilhelm all won their singles matches. While in doubles, the No. 2 and No. 3 teams picked up victories.

All three wins this past weekend extended Grinnell’s Conference winning streak to 112. Or simply put, the team has not lost to a MWC opponent in more than 13 years.

“It’s definitely humbling as a player to be a part of something that’s larger than all of us individually. We’re trying to keep streaks going that were started by players we’ve never even met,” Johnson said.

Utilizing the team’s depth, the team used the split squad against Illinois College and cruised to a 9-0 victory.

At this rate, the Pioneers are well on their way to earn yet another MWC title. Despite the big success, the team is staying humble and hungry.

“I don’t think any of us are just satisfied with how we are now and we really want the program to keep getting better and better,” Czarnecki said.

The Pioneers’ next test comes this weekend against Lawrence University, Ripon College, Grand View University and Ashford University on Saturday and St. Norbert College on Sunday. Head coach Andy Hamilton ’85 will once again employ his split squad. Matches against Lawrence, Ripon and St. Norbert, all conference opponents, will be played at home.

But just in time for the intense upcoming weekend was a rightfully earned reward that reminded the team of their talent and hard work. Just earlier this week, one of the team captains, Czarnecki, was awarded the MWC Men’s Tennis Performer of the Week.

“Elliott is having a tremendous year, which is a nice capstone to the stellar career he’s put together for Grinnell,” Johnson said. “In my three years here, he’s always been someone to look up to, on and off the court.”

“I’ve seen him develop in many ways as a player but perhaps the most striking piece of growth is seen in the confidence with which he is playing,” Hamilton wrote in an email to The S&B.

The achievement, however, only seems to be a grounding experience for Czarnecki.

“I would much rather see tangible improvement in some part of my game than get an award,” Czarnecki said.

  For Czarnecki and the seven other seniors on the squad, this weekend will be their last match in Grinnell.

“I will remember a lot of great wins, a similar number of crushing losses, but most of all, I will remember all the great memories I made with my teammates,” Czarnecki said.

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