Tennis teams streak into tough stretch

Richard Kelly

With the season beginning to heat up, the Washburn men’s and women’s tennis teams will find themselves in a grueling stretch beginning tomorrow.

After picking up four out of five victories combined in the last week, each team will likely play six matches in seven days. Many of the matches will take them to Texas, with Dallas, Wichita Falls and San Antonio all on the agenda. The women may only play five matches, with a possible match at Fort Hays State this Thursday.

The men will take in two wins in Topeka versus the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Newman University. Combined, they won decisively 14-0 over the two teams. On Sunday, they also traveled to Wichita to face Division I opponent University of Illinois-Chicago. They lost that match 4-3.

The women’s team was also successful in its two recent matches, defeating University of Nebraska at Kearney 5-2 and Newman University 6-1.

Within these matches, Washburn head coach Dave Alden has seen the men’s doubles team, seniors Ryan Ward and Simon Blondin, come together, as well as the women’s doubles teams as a whole playing stronger technically.

And with the season still young, Alden acknowledged his teams’ effort in each match.

“By and large I think these matches have been very good for us on both sides. And then for the men, quite frankly, we probably could’ve won Sunday. And any time, as a Division II, you can not only compete but probably beat a Division I program, that shows where we’re at,” said Alden.

While having six matches coming up in seven days seems to be difficult, Alden said this was going to be beneficial for the team both in terms of improvement and perseverance.

“We as a team are going to know exactly where we’re at after this stretch. You know, trips like this, you’re going to get tired, you’re going to get sore,” said Alden. “I’m going to learn a lot about the character of these teams, not only as individuals but as a collective group.”

The stretch, which begins with two games in Topeka for the men and likely one in Topeka for the women, eventually takes them to Wichita Falls, Texas. There, they are expected to kick off with Midwestern State before traveling to Dallas to play Dallas Baptist, then to San Antonio to play the University of Incarnate Word and St. Mary’s University (Texas) before ending in Eda, Okla., against East Central University.

At this point in the spring season, the men are 2-3, while the women are 3-1.

Despite the intensity of the upcoming week and the aches and pains it may bring, Alden was quick to point out though that the players are looking forward to the journey.

“They’re happy, like every college student, because spring break is a good time,” said Alden. “But, because we play a lot, they don’t have the same opportunity to really get on top of their schoolwork.

“So they have some other pressures that are out there. But, by and large, from a pure tennis standpoint, I think they’re all excited. Starting on Thursday, it’s on.”