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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Men’s Tennis looks strong against regional rivals

By David Kim

The Pioneers Men’s Tennis team is having a strong season with a record of 17-5 going into the last two weeks of their regular season. The team is recently coming off of a close 5-4 win against number 12 regionally ranked Coe College. The Pioneers are currently ranked 15th in the region.

“We’re having a good season,” said Head Tennis Coach Andy Hamilton ’85. “With a very young team, I think we have nine or ten first-years; and five of them playing in the rotations, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.”

Daniel Nellis ’13 prepares for a forehand during a sunny prac- tice. Grinnell hits the road this weekend for MWC matches at Ripon, Knox, St. Norbert and Lawrence. Photograph by Carl Sessions

The Pioneers pulled out a win against in-state rival Coe College due to a strong singles performance on Saturday, April 7 at home.  The team started off by being swept in the doubles matches.

“We were down 0-3 right in the beginning, so that showed a lot of toughness [that we won],” said number one singles and doubles player Elliot Czarnecki ’15. “I think that has a lot to do with the leadership we have in the upperclassmen. In singles all the upperclassmen won their matches against Coe. That definitely helped us.”

“It was a very odd win. In that tennis teams typically don’t come away with the victory if they can’t win any of the doubles,” said Coach Hamilton. “Coe is traditionally a very strong team in the state and in the region. They have a very, very, good program, so it was a very good win for us.”

In addition to their non-conference victories, the team is currently undefeated in the Midwest Conference (MWC) Southern Division. They swept Illinois College on Mar. 31, 9-0 and defeated Lake Forest College 7-2 the same day.

“There are only a couple teams in the conference that can give us competition,” said number two doubles player Eric Ritter ‘12. “One of them is Lake Forest and our doubles team beat them very handily.”

This weekend the team is traveling to Wisconsin to play conference games against Ripon College (1-8) and Knox College (4-10) on Friday, April 13 and St. Norbert College (4-10) and Lawrence University (7-10) on Saturday, April 14.

The following weekend, the Pioneers will face Monmouth College (11-9) at home on April 21, and Luther College (14-4) on April 22, also at home.

“Monmouth looks very strong. They look like the 2nd best team in the conference,” Hamilton said. “Our goal always is to challenge for a MWC championship. Monmouth has four very strong players returning and achieving that goal will be very difficult.”

The match against non-conference rival Luther will present a tough final regular season contest.

“Luther is one of the best teams in the state and perennially regionally ranked in men and women,” Hamilton said. “So, it will be a nice cap to the men’s regular season to play a very good team.”

“We have been playing very, very well in the singles line–up,” Ritter said. “We have beaten two teams in the top 12 in the region. I think we’re feeling like in terms of our level if we come out fighting we can beat teams that are on paper better than us.”

Heading into the post season, the Pioneers can guarantee themselves a place in the MWC Tournament this year with a win over Knox on Friday. The MWC Tournament is being held in Madison, WI on April 27. The Pioneers’ goal will be to defend their title as eight time MWC champions.

“We want to win the MWC. Which means winning the MWC tournament and beating Lake Forest and Monmouth,” Ritter said. “If we step out on the court and play our game, we’re not going to lose. We are a better team.”

“A lot of how we do this year will depend on how our doubles goes in the MWC,” Czarnecki said. “So, in practice we focus a lot on doubles and trying to get the three doubles points right away.”

“We’ve been talking about playing strong till the end and having a big build up to the end,” Hamilton said. “If we’re able to accomplish that I think we have a very good chance of winning the title.”

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