IN THE STANDS: Tennis last hope in season of struggles

Chris Marshall

Most of Washburn’s teams entered the 2008-09 season with high expectations, hoping to go deep in the NCAA tournament, if not win the whole thing.

Football players talked about winning a national title before the school year began, and became even more hopeful after a 2-0 start.

The women’s basketball team was ranked No. 3 in preseason polls, appearing to be a lock for at least the Elite Eight in San Antonio, especially with regional rival Emporia State losing their best player to graduation.

The volleyball team also rose to as high as third in the national rankings, winning their first 12 matches and 34 of the first 36 games.

The Ichabod football team followed up their hot start with back-to-back losses, including a 10-point loss to Fort Hays State, the team’s only MIAA win of the year. Losses in the last three games of the season erased any hope of the team even making the lowly Mineral Water Bowl.

The Lady Blues won the MIAA tournament, but lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Hundreds of teams would be satisfied with that fate, but not a team built for a national title run. Central Oklahoma is a good team, but they’re no Washburn.

Volleyball only lost six matches all year, but came up short in three of the last four, including a first round 3-0 loss to Central Missouri.

Few fans would label any of the three teams “disappointments,” but Washburn has very few fans to begin with. We have the worst student section in the MIAA.

This is why it’s so welcoming to see a team with little expectations step up and remain the MIAA’s best all year.

Washburn’s women’s tennis team, composed of six freshmen and a junior, just finished second in the MIAA tournament and travels to the NCAA tournament on Thursday, a place nobody assumed they would be, including coach Dave Alden, who just won MIAA coach of the year honors.

Men’s tennis did even better, winning the conference championship with a roster made up entirely of upperclassmen.

The three teams mentioned before were happy with how far they advanced in the postseason, and the two tennis teams will be eqaully satisfied, no matter what round they make.

The only difference is, these teams weren’t picked to be here in the preseason polls, and the compliments they give themselves at season’s end will actually be justified.