The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

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

Pioneer tennis looks towards tournament play after short season


Following an undefeated season, the Grinnell College men’s tennis team shut out Illinois College in the first round of the Midwest Conference Tournament on Tuesday, April 28. The women’s team, also finishing the season undefeated, had a bye for the first round of the tournament.

Both teams face off Friday, May 7 for the Midwest Conference final; the men’s and women’s team both playing Lake Forest.

This season, the MWC was split into the North and South divisions. The South division consisted of Grinnell, Illinois College, and Monmouth, while the North division consisted of Ripon, St. Norbert, and Lake Forest. Lake Forest and Grinnell won their respective divisions.

The Pioneer men’s team looks for its 17th straight conference title this Friday, while the women’s team, who lost to Lake Forest in the 2019 conference final, looks towards their second chance. “We are focusing more on how we want to play versus who it is we are actually playing,” said Sophia De Los Reyes `23 of the women’s team.

Despite the Pioneers’ confidence in this weekend’s games, COVID-related restrictions have continued to create many obstacles, one of these being a shortened season. This season the men’s team played a total of seven regular-season matches and the women played four, all within the conference against non-ranked opponents.

During a normal season, the Pioneers play upwards of 25 matches, many of them non-conference matches against nationally ranked opponents. Non-conference matches usually help the Pioneers prepare for the Midwest Conference Tournament and, if victorious, the NCAA Tournament.

“Some teams are having full on regular seasons and playing all these ranked opponents. … They are getting that experience to prepare themselves for the NCAA Tournament,” said Bowen Mince `22 of the men’s team.

Ishaan Tibrewal `21 also commented on the schedule this year. “We prefer playing teams once, since you get a whole variety of teams. … It would be nicer to play different schools instead of playing the same [conference] schools three times.”

On top of a shortened season, Grinnell’s spectator policy poses challenges of its own. Due to the policy, those that are not students, faculty or staff are not permitted to come to the matches. Sabrina Tang `23 of the women’s team was used to her parents being at every game. “Last weekend was the first time neither of my parents have been to one of my tennis matches. I didn’t think about it too much because I thought I would get sad,” said Tang.

However, the Pioneers are not letting these COVID-related hindrances stop them from having a successful season.

One of the ways Grinnell tennis is persevering this season is through strong practices. With deep rosters and superb players, both teams feel confident that their practices will give them the competition and intensity needed to best prepare, no matter their schedule.

When asked about their practices, Mince said, “One of the major things Coach Hamilton is stressing is we get better at every practice. … You’re going to have to push yourself in practice so you are ready for that match down the road [in the tournament].”

On top of excellent practices, getting back to competing has also provided valuable perspectives and a newfound appreciation for tennis.

Tang is thrilled about being able to compete again. “I’m just happy to have a season at all.”

Mince said he feels the same way. “COVID has definitely put a strain on things, … but then again I am very grateful to at least have some play.” He encouraged those getting to play again to not take it for granted. “Don’t be mad at yourself on the court, just be happy you’re out there. … Be grateful for what you have. I didn’t know how big of a part of my life tennis was until it was taken away,” he said.

The men’s team kicks off this Friday’s matches at 12:30 p.m. while the women’s team follows at 3:30 p.m.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *