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Pioneer tennis looks to conference after poor start to season

Cory Hall

Despite their recent loss to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Grinnell men’s tennis team remains excited for the rest of the season. 

On the weekend of Feb. 12, Grinnell lost 9-0 to UW-Whitewater, a defeat that no. 1 player Bowen Mince `22 said showed the team’s inexperience. Mince said that the team now has “a sense of what they need to work on and what it’s like now to compete in these college matches. I definitely have a sense of how I need to lead the team and bring more energy than I have been.” 

The team started practice just a few weeks ago and recently returned to competition. For now, the team will  face other teams in the Midwest Conference and is later slated to compete in Orlando over Grinnell’s spring break. After Orlando, the team begins conference play. If they win, they get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. 

Mince said this year he is facing the pressure. The Grinnell men’s tennis team has gone to the NCAA conference for the past 17 years, and Mince does not want to lose this streak.  

“Given that I’m the only fourth year on the team, it’s definitely a little strange,” Mince said. Indeed, Mince has taken on a leadership role because the majority of the team is composed of first- and second-year players.  

Mince said he hopes to mirror the spirit of these newer players in order to help bolster team morale on the court. “They really love to compete and come play, and I envy that,” he said. “It’s hard to match that sometimes.”  

Mince cites a lack of energy and experience as the key reason for their loss against UW-Whitewater. “This is the first time we were winless in my college career,” Mince said. In the past, Grinnell tennis has stacked up against Luther and Wheaton Colleges, which they played in addition to UW-Whitewater. “It’s weird having a losing record, I have to say,” Mince continued. “There’s a big challenge ahead.” 

 With tough matches against Gustavus Adolphus College and Carleton College lined up for the weekend of Feb. 19, Mince said he wants to improve upon the overall energy of the team. To accomplish this, Mince specifically cited a need to work on doubles matches.  

“Our singles work is very strong at the moment, and that really showed this past weekend,” he said. “But our doubles showed the inexperience, not being able to close off volleys at the net.” 

Overall, though, Mince is hopeful about the remainder of the season. Personally, Mince said he wants to push himself to make it to the NCAA individuals tournament at the end of the season. “I know I can compete with those guys who are there, I’ve done it throughout the past three seasons … but this year I think I have a great opportunity because we’re playing so many tough matches.” 

In fact, Mince said, “I definitely view this as my last competitive season in tennis … I’m a Grinnell tennis player, really. That’s what it comes down to.”   

For all four of his Grinnell tennis years, Mince sustained the no. 1 spot. Mince said he wants his legacy to be to  be a “lasting team culture”

“I value strongly being a good competitor and being respectful on the court,” he said. 

“I think we’re only going to grow from here,” Mince said.  

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About the Contributor
Allison Moore
Allison Moore, Staff Writer
Allison is a fourth-year gender, women's, and sexuality studies major from Granville, Ohio. In her spare time, she can be found crafting, cooking, and cuddling with her kitten, Koda. If you think her mini crossword is too hard, then too bad.
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