Bods win, Blues second in MIAA

Nicole Stejskal

The Ichabod and Lady Blues tennis teams finished postseason conference play strong, with several all-conference awards and bids to the regional tournament.

After finishing the conference as runner-up in the tournament, the women’s team came away with five first team all-MIAA awards. Junior Trang Le Nguyen led the Lady Blues with first team all-conference honors at No. 1 singles and the MIAA Most Valuable Player award.

Abbey Sharpe, freshman, was selected for first team No. 2 singles and was chosen as the MIAA Freshman of the Year. Le Nguyen and Sharpe also won second team honors at No. 1 doubles.

Freshman Whitley Zitsch was chosen for first team all-MIAA at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles with partner Alyssa Castillo, freshman. Castillo also picked up honorable mention honors at No. 4 singles. Freshmen Annie Doole and Amanda Gayer were selected for second team all-conference at No. 5 singles and No. 6 singles, respectively. The pair also earned honorable mention at No. 3 doubles.

Overall, with a very young team, coach Dave Alden was impressed with the way the team competed this season.

“I knew that we had the ability to be pretty good, but with the lack of experience, the [success of] girls’ team was a great unknown,” said Alden. “The girls have been really good at focusing, and the doubles and singles that we’re playing now are nowhere close to where we were when we first started. They’ve advanced so much, and I’m so proud of them.”

The men’s team also had several all-conference selections after winning the MIAA tournament. Senior Brad Johnston and junior Branden Joost earned first team all-MIAA honors at No. 1 doubles, while juniors Yann Kasay and Adam Rens were chosen for first team all-conference at No. 5 singles and No. 6 singles, respectively.

Joost was also chosen for second team all-conference at No. 1 singles, while Simon Blondin picked up honors for second team No. 2 singles and No. 3 doubles with partner Kasay. Junior Ryan Ward won second team honors at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles with partner Drew Hanson, who was also selected for the honorable mention team at No. 4 singles.

After leading the Ichabods to their third MIAA championship in four years, Alden was the unanimous pick for MIAA Coach of the Year.

“If you would’ve told me a year ago when I interviewed for the job that the teams would be this successful and that I’d be coach of the year, I would’ve been surprised,” said Alden. “My first year success has been great, and I hope that it continues.”

The Ichabods and Lady Blues will begin regional tournament play this weekend in Abilene, Texas. The men’s team will face conference rival Southwest Baptist, while the women’s team will take on Abilene Christian. The winner of each match will advance to the tournament final, with the regional tournament champion moving on to the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen.