Men’s and women’s tennis coach Dave Alden may only be in his second season at Washburn, but expectations are high as the spring season begins.
Practicing since the second week of classes, this past weekend was the first competition since fall for both men’s and women’s tennis. The women took on North Kentucky University on Saturday and Drury University on Sunday. The men’s team travelled to take on the Drury men’s team in a Saturday contest. Both teams played in Springfield, Mo.
The women took a 6-3 victory over Northern Kentucky on Saturday, then dropped their Sunday match to No.21 Drury 8-1. The men’s team also lost their match against Drury, with a score of 6-3.
But despite the losses, Alden was very happy with his teams’ performances.
“I was thrilled. Drury will be in the top 15 by the end of the year and they’re very good. We were within a couple points of beating them,” said Alden regarding the men’s performance.
Alden also said the Drury women’s team will also likely be in the top 15 in the nation by the end of the season. Furthermore, he didn’t dwell on the losses for either team, knowing that the experience was beneficial.
“This is the reason you play non-conference matches. They don’t really hurt you. They’re good, tough matches. And in upside, we won’t see this good of teams again all year,” he said.
Before the games of this past weekend, Alden expressed his hopes for the upcoming season as a whole.
“We expect to come out strong. We’ve been practicing awfully hard,” said Alden. “And I think at this point, everyone’s tired of playing each other and wants to play someone else. My biggest expectation is that we go out and compete and play hard.”
For the men’s team, all but one player is in his final season, as opposed to the women’s team that’s all sophomores except for one senior. But Alden sees both teams being very strong. He knows specifically for the men, they want to hold nothing back.
“This will be the last campaign for a number of the men, so they know what to expect, so there’s no surprises. And they know what to expect out of themselves,” he said. “With this being their last year, they want to have no regrets about how they play. With every match, this is it, leave it all out there.”
For the women’s team, Alden went on to say, despite the number of sophomores, that the team has grown since last year and has been able to assess what it did wrong, which it hopes will create a stronger level of play for this season.
And although his modest hopes are just of high competiveness and hard work, Alden would like to see his team make the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament that takes place at the end of the season. The men’s team made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, as the women made it to the first round. The men’s team went undefeated in conference play, while the women won all of their games except for the conference championship game.
“If we have a good attitude and a good effort, usually the results will take care of themselves,” said Alden. “The expectations are for us, that the men want to repeat and the women got to the final match in the conference tournament and it was the first match where it looked like we actually played like we were all freshmen except for a junior college transfer.”