Washburn’s tennis teams are ready to take on any competition that comes their way.
Armed with a men’s team that won the MIAA Championship last season and a girl’s team that came in second in the MIAA, each of the respective teams is ready to defend its high rankings.
The men’s team bolster’s five seniors and one junior while the girl’s team is fairly experienced as well with five sophomores and one senior. Both teams don’t begin their full schedule until spring but each have four occasions to get warmed up for that this fall beginning with the Washburn Invitational September 4-5 and continuing on with the Wichita State Invitational September 11-13. Each will play against Cowley County Community College on Saturday and each have a regional tournament on separate dates following that.
Dave Alden returns as coach for this season for both men’s and women’s, after he completed his first season last year. He has high hopes for both teams he coaches this year. He knows it’s hard for his men’s team to top their MIAA championship last year, but he sees it as a possibility.
“Our goal is to repeat from a conference standpoint, but then our next goal to go even further in the NCAA tournament,” said Alden.
Annie Doole, a sophomore who was with the team last year, saw her and her teammates surprise opponents last season. Adding to that, she sees this year as being a lot less of an adjustment with Alden staying on.
“Last year, it was a completely new team because we had a brand new coach and six of us were freshmen and we had one junior county transfer, ” said Doole. “I think we shocked a lot of people because of that, just being underestimated.”
Alden also concurred that the women’s team was young and shocked a lot of people last year, but he also thinks the team can only continue to improve as this year progresses. Doole feels the same way.
“I think we can definitely win conference this year. I think that’s a big goal for us as a team,” said Doole.
Northwest Missouri State University, who beat out the Lady Blue’s tennis team last year, lost a few players for this season and that could play a factor when the season begins in spring.
For both squads, the fall tournaments they’re playing in come as a way for the players and coach to assess the progress that needs to be made and possibly who will fit best together in doubles play.
“I think by and large everyone has come in pretty good shape. The positive to playing these fall tournaments is it gives us time to work on any of the deficiencies that pop up in the tournament,” said Alden. “It gives us time to work on not only the physical but the mental aspects so they can be strong in all areas of their game.”