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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

Men’s tennis plays with the big boys

Martin Dluhos '12 winds up for a overhead slam during indoor practice in the Physical Education Center. - Ben Brewer
The Men’s Tennis team (4-2) picked up two wins and a loss this weekend, beating Wartburg College and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Saturday at Wartburg and losing at Carleton on Sunday.  Head Coach Andrew Hamilton was happy with the team’s play and result.

“We had what I would consider a pretty key victory against University of Wisconsin La Crosse,” Hamilton said. “Even though we lost to [Carleton], I thought we played a pretty good match.”

Despite their success, Junior Captain Juan Carlos Perez ‘11 still thinks that there was a lot of room for improvement over the weekend.

“Last year, we would beat these teams pretty handily, and this year we had to fight a lot,” Perez said.  “Last weekend was a good experience and we learned from it, and now we’re going to show up as if we’re playing a ranked team every time.”

The team lost three of last years starters including their star doubles team, Dan LaFountaine ‘09 and Nate Fox ‘09, who ended their Grinnell careers in the quarterfinals of last years’ National NCAA Division III tournament.

“Last years’ team was the highest achieving men’s team in the modern era at Grinnell,” Hamilton said. “Every year is different…we need to be focused on what’s at hand this year.”

The Pioneers want to continue their success and that means another Midwest Conference Championship. According to Coach Hamilton, Grinnell has won the title for six straight years and seven of the last eight.

Perez spearheads their effort, as the No. 1 singles player and, along with Martin Dluhos ’12, on the No. 1 doubles team. As such, he has played some key matches already this year, including against Carleton’s top singles player, the 12th ranked player in the region.

No match, however, was as big for Perez as his near triumph over NAIA 5th ranked nationally Remy Caffardo from Graceland.

“Remy last year killed me. Absolutely killed me. It was 6-0 6-2, and I didn’t even have a chance,” Perez said. “This year, I’ve been working really hard…I feel like I’m playing the best tennis of my life, so I felt like I had a better shot of beating him this year.  I was not afraid.”

Perez played Caffardo close, eventually falling 4-6 7-5 6-4.  As a captain and as one of the team’s veterans, Perez is picking up more responsibility off the court as well.

“I was used to just following my leaders.  My captains would tell me what to do and how to do it,” Perez said. “This year…I’m one of the ones who has to come up with what to do and how to solve problems and how to recommend some things to Coach.”

Joining the team this year will be three freshmen, including Ishan Bhadkamkar ’13, who plays both singles and doubles. Bhadkamkar appreciates how much the team welcomed him and his fellow freshmen.

“One of the amazing things about our team is that we have incredible camaraderie, that you don’t really find on a lot of other college teams,” Bhadkamkar said, “You’ll find the guys doing homework together, eating dinner together. Even when we weren’t in season we spent a lot of time together.”

According to Bhadkamkar, this translates to improvement on the court.

“We’re making each other better,” Bhadkamkar said.

“My hope is for us to continue to be focused on the singles court and to have the players individually continue to develop their playing styles,” Hamilton said. “As a team one of our main concepts over the next couple of weeks is to get better at doubles.”

To this end, Coach Hamilton plans to adjust the 2nd and 3rd doubles teams and test their success over the next few games.  He hopes to see improvement by spring break, when the team will face a series of highly rated opponents on the road, including Luther, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Chicago—a top 15 team nationally. Perez sees the spring break trip as a measure of the team.

“During the spring break trip, we’re going to be playing a couple ranked teams,” Perez said. “We’re going to be able to evaluate our standing.”
Coach Hamilton hopes that this tough schedule will prepare the players for in-conference matches in April.

“We definitely will be trying to get our level up so that when we play those conference opponents… we’ll be playing our best,” Hamilton said.
These matches include the first home match of the year, which doesn’t come till April 17th against Coe College.

“I’m hoping that we can get as much fan support as possible for our 4 home matches in April,” Bhadkamkar said.
The team’s next game is 11:00 a.m. tomorrow at St. Ambrose University.

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