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The Scarlet & Black

Tennis takes on tough schedule

It’s all balls and rackets for the Grinnell Men’s Tennis team.

Bouncing back from their 3-6 loss at Carleton earlier in the day, the Pioneers (5-2) took a 9-0 victory from their visit to St. Ambrose on Saturday, March 6. The weekend was a confidence builder for the six-time Midwest Conference (MWC) Champions.

“Everybody was concentrated on the courts,” Dmitriy Glumov ’12 said, who won both of his matches last Saturday. “We had very good practices the week before and I think that was really important.”

The Pioneers’ non-conference schedule will continue until the end of Spring Break, when they play Lake Forest in the MWC opener on April 3. The non-conference schedule serves multiple purposes for the team. 

“This year our schedule has us playing about six or seven regionally, ranked teams, some of them are regionally ranked teams,” said Head Coach Andy Hamilton ’85. “We targeted some good opponents for Juan [Carlos Perez ’11] to play but we want to play competition where all the guys on our team will be challenged and get a little bit of success.” 

The departure of perennial tennis behemoths Dan LaFontaine ’09 and Nate Fox ’09 left holes in the line-up, one of which Glumov stepped up to fill. 

“[Glumov] has assumed the role of number two for us, [Glumov] didn’t play in our singles line-up last year and he jumped from essentially number seven or eight,” Hamilton said. “He has great racket skills, he’s learning to construct teams, but the fact that he’s lefty and he’s powerful has kind of taken his opponents off guard.”

Glumov attributes his success this season, which include his 5-2 singles record, to his work out of season. 

“I practiced a lot over the summer and I think that helped a lot,” Glumov said. “Coach said your first summer is really important.”

Another player that improved significantly since last season is second year Eric Ritter ’12, although according to him, his success had a different source than off-season workout. Rather, Ritter had what can only be described as a mental shift.

“I am playing indescribably better,” Ritter said.“I am playing tennis now only out the desire to play tennis, so the way that comes out on the tennis court is I’m not playing like I’m afraid to lose. Last year I would be really tight, I would be thinking about the other player…this year I really just sort of concentrating on myself and having fun on the tennis court.”

With a young team this year—the only senior is team captain Sam Raife ’10—the Pioneers know they are securing a strong future this year. 

“Next year could be a huge year,” Ritter said. “I mean, this year we’re probably right on the edge of being one of the top 15 years in the region, where last year we were clearly one the top and teams and next year it seems we’ll be like where we were last year. But even saying that, if we’re playing really well we can beat a Carleton.”

Regardless of what the future has in store, the focus of this year is on improving on last year’s success which includes another Midwest title, a possible repeat trip to Nationals for Juan Carlos and Senior Sam Raife’s chance to win his fourth straight MWC singles title, an achievement that less than 10 individuals in the history of the Conference have accomplished. 

The teams faces Cornell College at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow in Mount Vernon, IA and Augustana College later that day at 1:30 p.m. Be sure to check out the talented men’s team after Spring Break when they play their home match against Coe College at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 17.

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