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The Scarlet & Black

Men’s Tennis leads MWC, eyes Regionals

Domination may be the only fitting word to describe the men’s tennis team’s spring season. Led by Juan Carlos Perez ’11, currently nationally ranked 21st in singles, the Pioneers are confident in their ability to win the Midwest Conference title and advance to NCAA Regionals for the eighth consecutive year.

Alec Moore '11 gears up to serve during practice on Wednesday. Photograph taken by Andrew Kelley.

Despite losing their latest match to Coe College last Saturday, the Pioneers have won eight of their last nine games and hold the best overall record in the Midwest Conference at 18-6.

“A lot of hard work early in the season in terms of conditioning has helped us be stronger and fitter than other teams as the season progresses,” Perez said. “It’s been great to see how the team has overcome adversity throughout the season.”

During their eight-game winning streak prior to its loss to Coe, the team swept four of its opponents, displaying its talented and depth.

“Heading into the year, we had six individuals who had all earned either a singles or doubles title in the Midwest Conference,” Head Coach Andy Hamilton said. “Experience has been perhaps the single most important contributor to our success.”

On April 3, the team bested Carleton 6-3, a strong team in the region they lost to last year.

“The [Carleton] match definitely gave us confidence because lot of players realized that we could play against a tough competition,” Dmitriy Glumov ’11 said.

Though the loss to Coe College halted the team’s winning streak, head coach is not worried at all.

“The Coe match was a great Division III competition,” Hamilton said. “I thought we played well in most positions and we competed at all lineup spots.  There were no disappointments, and I was quite pleased with how comfortable we were in the difficult and tense moments.”

Along with Perez, Glumov, the team’s number two singles player and Perez’s doubles partner, has played incredibly, uplifting the team. He did not begin the season well, losing three of his first five singles matches and two of his first three doubles matches. However, since then he has lost only three singles matches since. Additionally, Perez and Glumov have not dropped a doubles match since Feb. 13.

“After a nervous start, [he] has been tremendous,” Hamilton said. “I hope he can cap off a great senior year with some special moments in the final weeks of the season. He has a big heart for his teammates and Grinnell.”

The pair of Perez and Glumov is ranked number one in doubles in the region.

“Juan and Dmitriy at the top of the lineup wins more frequently than any others and has been a tremendous help toward overall team success,” Alec Moore ’11 said. “Their great play has put less pressure on the bottom of the lineup.”

Though everything seems to be heading the right way for the Pioneers, they believe there is always a room for improvement. Moore pointed out the mental game.

“As a team, we could stand to improve our game mentally,” he said. “Better mental toughness is what it is going to take to pull out close matches like Coe and potentially those at conference in the future.”

The team faces perhaps its toughest competition this Saturday against Washington University, who is ranked sixth in the country among Division III schools.

“Wash U gives us a chance to play one of the top [6] teams in the nation, and give [Perez and Glumov] a chance to play against top quality players,” Hamilton said. “[Washington University] is a classy team with great players.”

The team will cap off the regular season next Saturday against Knox College and Monmouth College before heading to Madison, WI for the Midwest Conference title.

“We are the favorites to do [win], but we need to make sure we work really hard to accomplish this goal because there are some really good programs out there who want to take Grinnell down for the first time in awhile,” Perez said.

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