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The Scarlet & Black

Men’s tennis opens season with two key victories

Doubles team Sam Catanzaro ’16 (top) and Byrson Cale ’16 (bottom), in action this past weekend versus Truman State. Photo by Xiaoxuan Yang

Gabe Lehman

Doubles team Sam Catanzaro ’16 (top) and Byrson Cale ’16 (bottom), in action this past weekend versus Truman State. Photo by Xiaoxuan Yang
Doubles team Sam Catanzaro ’16 (top) and Byrson Cale ’16 (bottom), in action this past weekend versus Truman State. Photo by Xiaoxuan Yang

Grinnell men’s tennis team, winners of a staggering 12 straight Conference Championships, started right where they left off last year—winning convincingly.

The Pioneers gained a pair of 7-2 victories against two quality opponents in Truman State and Graceland University. The Pioneers crush Graceland in doubles, with pairs Jose Coloma ’19-Tommy Pitcher ’17, C.J. Ray ’16-Cole Miller ’17 and Tracy Johnson ’16-Sam Stickles ’19 all winning their matches. Coloma, Johnson, Stickles and Pitcher won their individual matches as well.

In the Truman State match, doubles pairs Bryson Cale-Sam Catanzaro and Ameer Shujjah-Caleb Kumar, all ’16, came out victorious. Cale, Catanzaro, Zach Lane ’19, Beau Bressler ’16 and Will Hamilton ’17 all won their individual matches.

Grinnell had not beaten Graceland in recent history, so the win was one to treasure for the Pioneers.

“Graceland is a perennial power house. This is the first time Grinnell beat them. So it gives us really good momentum coming out of the first week,” Johnson said.

Playing in their first college matches of their careers, the first-years showed reason for stupendous optimism. Specifically, Coloma seems to have a tennis future as bright as any player on the team. Coloma, already playing at the number one position, cruised to victory in singles and doubles. This came as no surprise to head coach Andy Hamilton ’85, who could not help but show his pride in landing the lauded recruit.

“When we got Jose we knew we had a number one -ype player,” Coach Hamilton said.

Johnson played doubles with first-year Stickles. For Johnson, this partnership takes him back to his first-year days. 

“When I was a first-year I had a senior partner as well, so now I feel like the dynamic has flipped. It’s nice to try to be the mentor and to try to help guide Sam [Stickles] through college doubles,” Johnson said.

Will Hamilton, son of Coach Hamilton, brought up yet another first-year, Lane, as a reason for optimism for the men’s tennis program.

“He hits the ball harder than I’ve ever seen,” Will Hamilton said.

Despite gaining so much first-year talent, no one can deny that the team has felt the loss of the class of 2015—a very strong group who spent two years as team captains.

“It’s a little bit different dynamic as far as being in the locker room,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think the team is just moving in a different direction. “

Coach Hamilton said that the team’s depth would play to their advantage and help overcome the loss of last year’s seniors. Hamilton claims that the team’s number 13 player is fully capable of beating the number six player, and that that number six player could beat the number three.

“We have steel sharpening steel every day in practice,” Coach Hamilton said.

Men’s tennis is back in action this weekend with four matches. Half of the team will travel to Minnesota to play Carleton College and Macalester College while the other half of the team will remain in Grinnell to host St. Ambrose University and Wartburg College at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. respectively on Sunday. 

— Editor’s note: Sam Catanzaro is the Sports Editor for The S&B.

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