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The Scarlet & Black

Tennis players set sights on Midwest Conference titles

The women’s tennis team practices their drive to gear up for a hopefully triumphant season. Contributed photo.
The women’s tennis team practices their drive to gear up for a hopefully triumphant season. Contributed photo.

By Tommy O’Donnell

Both Grinnell Men and Women’s Tennis teams are looking forward to another successful spring season.

Eight games into the season, the men’s team is happy with its performance so far. “It’s been going pretty well. … I had two good wins last weekend. What didn’t go so well is we lost to Whitewater pretty badly, but all in all, we’ve been pretty successful so far this season,” said Michael Conlin-Brandenburg ’21.

Zach Lane ’19 said, “I think we’re prepared very well this year. We’ve got a really deep team … we’ve got great doubles this year … we’ve swept doubles at a lot of matches that have been really big in helping us win.”

Lane also said that the first year class, including Bowen Mince ‘22 and Cole Hagerman ‘22, has contributed to the team’s successes.

The addition of quality first years has increased the competition for places among their large roster even further. Conlin-Brandenburg said, “[The first years have] been meshing with the team really well and playing really well, so it’s definitely helped having them on the team.

“Having a big roster is really nice. We have a really deep team, so it makes practices more competitive and guys are pushing each other because you know there are a lot of guys behind you that want it. I don’t think it’s a bad competition, but it’s definitely something that helps people raise their games knowing that their teammates are at a similar level and are working hard in practice to help the team,” Conlin-Brandenburg said.

The women’s team, which has already secured second place in the NCAA Division III Midwest Conference, is aiming to go one better this semester and qualify for the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Abby Nielsen ’19 also said newcomers on the women’s team have made an impact. “We had three first years who came in this year. … They’ve been a good asset to our team. They’ve all played in the lineup at some point.

Although women’s tennis has already competed in a conference tournament, the upcoming competition at the end of the spring season determines which team will progress to the NCAA Division III National Tournament. Last year the women won the spring tournament and went to nationals. Nielsen said she is optimistic that she and her teammates can keep on improving for the rest of the year.

“Playing a lot of matches has helped. … I feel like I’ve gotten more used to playing matches and become more comfortable,” Nielsen said.

The men’s team has won 15 Midwest Conference titles in a row, and are working hard to stop any sort of complacency from creeping in to their game. “We’re not going to take it lightly, but we definitely feel like we have a good chance this year,” said Conlin-Brandenburg.

Lane said, “We’re just trying to uphold and get that 16th title. … Our conference this year is a little down so we should be looking to extend [the winning streak].”

Lane is convinced that the men’s team can compete on the national stage. “In the nationals, we can fight with any of these teams. … We won our first round last year and then played a really good school in the second round and ended up losing, … but we can take them out.”

Men’s Tennis will continue their season on Saturday, March 9, when they take on Principia College at the Bear Center Field House.

Over spring break, both teams will go to Florida to face tough competition from across the country.

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