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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Men’s Tennis almost aces first weekend, is optimistic going forward

Contributed photo.

By Steve Yang

After three tough losses in Janesville, Wisc. over the past weekend at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Tournament, the men’s tennis team is reorganizing, resting and getting ready for another tough match against Gustavus Adolphus College on Saturday, Feb. 25. Although they suffered close and disheartening defeats in their first two matches against Ohio Wesleyan and Wheaton College, the team finished strong in all its matches and demonstrated the resilience and fortitude they hope will carry them to a 15th consecutive Midwestern Conference team title and reserve a spot at the Division III National Championships.

Currently ranked 14 in the Central Region, the Pioneers played back-to-back-to-back matches at the tournament in an effort that called for substantial mental and physical focus.

“We had to play late Friday night and early Saturday morning, as well as later Saturday afternoon, so I would say that I was very tired by the end; however, every match was vitalizing and a lot of fun,” wrote co-captain Cole Miller ’17 in an email to The S&B.

Co-captain Tommy Pitcher ’17 said that he was proud of the team for staying strong throughout the games, and for playing to a focused finish in every match. He added that the final score was not a reflection of the overall closeness and competitiveness, pointing out that Grinnell lost its first two by a score of 4-5. If a few points had gone the other way, the Pioneers would have finished 2-1 overall for the weekend.

“It took us a while to get into the swing of things. By the time we found our stride as a team, it was a little too late,” Pitcher said. “The final match score doesn’t necessarily reflect the match; we were competing really hard.”

Against Whitewater Miller was the only Pioneer to defeat his opponent, which he did with a final score of 7-6, 3-6, 10-7 at number 2 singles. He credited the satisfaction and possibility of this victory to playing with an upbeat and optimistic attitude.

“It was an incredible win for me personally. That’s the 2nd time I’ve beaten a fellow from Whitewater (all of them are top players),” he wrote. “I never got down on myself during that match and was surprisingly lively and happy throughout. I think that definitely helped me win.”

Despite the setbacks, Pitcher and Miller said that they are hopeful these experiences will prepare the team to execute future game plans, with an emphasis on the MWC championships. Miller explained that mental toughness is the key for both winning and team spirit.

“I’m hoping the team will focus of the mental side of tennis a lot more. That’s one thing we all need to work on in order to foster greater cohesiveness as a team,” Miller wrote. “The team is young and still developing, but …  we’ll be able to shape these fresh players and instill in them a sense of greatness.”

Next Saturday, the Pioneers will take the court against a team which Miller calls “the toughest team … during the season,” a credit to Gustavus Adolphus College’s 9-0 sweeps in its last five matches. Gustavus Adolphus is currently ranked #5 in the Central Region.

“[We’re] not expecting to win, but the team will give their best try and we’ll see what happens,” Miller said. “I think this weekend will be a great learning experience for our freshmen and sophomores, as they will get to play against top-level players and experience what it’s like at a level higher than our own.”

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