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The Scarlet & Black

Tennis team experiences early success

By Darwin Manning

The Grinnell Women’s tennis team is now 5-0 for the season, with the victories on Saturday against Simpson College (7-2) and Graceland College (6-3) and on Sunday versus Cornell College (5-4). 

The continually closer scores, while all winners, reflect the fatigue that affected the players as the weekend wore on.  After two tiring matches on Saturday, the team was hitting the wall against Cornell. 

“We had a difficult time with our singles matches, something we usually handle pretty well and I think that was mainly due to lack of footwork and energy,” Elizabeth Spears ’11 said. “So we really had to push ourselves through a very uncomfortable match to make points happen and, ultimately, win.”   

Although the Pioneers were exhausted by the end of the weekend, they continued to win with the help of a strong conditioning program, which has been a major area of focus for the team.  Starting this season Head Coach Andy Hamilton has implemented a mandatory strength-conditioning regimen that is much more rigorous than in previous years. 

“It’s definitely going to be hard in the beginning of the season to adjust, but later on when we start to see results we will be thankful that Coach Hamilton decided to implement this new mandatory training,” Jill Akiyama ’12 said.

Besides a stronger dedication to the physical part of the game, Hamilton wants players more attuned to the mental part of it as well. 

“This includes being smart about each loss and deciding if the main mistakes made were in the technical, physical or mental part of the game,” said Hamilton.

However, confidence is running high, especially considering the success of last year’s team, which went 20-7 and undefeated in conference play. 

 “If players play at their highest level we should find success as a team, because my assessment is that we have a very talented team,” said Hamilton.

Last year was also the fifth year in a row that the Pioneers won the Midwest Conference championship.  

 “Going to Conference is what I’m most excited and nervous about because I really want to win it,” Kelsey Pickens ’10 said. “I am going to have to work really hard to hold up that tradition.” 

A little luck might not hurt either in going to the post-season this year.

 “Last year did not work out ‘cause we played the University of Chicago, the fourth best team in the nation, in the second round [of nationals],” said Akiyama. “Depending on how our luck pans out this year, we’ll hopefully get a nice string of luck in the teams we match up against in the NCAA tournament.” 

But right now they will have to take it week by week. With five wins under their belt, the team now practices in anticipation and full of confidence going into their first home matches this weekend. Both matches will be on Saturday, Sep. 12, the first against Knox College at 10 a.m. and the second versus University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 4 p.m.

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