WU opens regular season against beatable foes

Raindl return Senior Amber Raindl returns a volley in her No. 2 singles match win Saturday against Cowley County at Washburn. The Lady Blues next play 5 p.m. Friday at home against Mesa State.

Nathan Miller

They are not the toughest competition on the schedule by any means, but for the Lady Blues and Bods tennis teams, the upcoming week is essential to ending the season right.

“We definitely scheduled a tougher schedule this year,” said coach Jennifer Hastert. “I had a lot of seniors with experience so I think we’re prepared. Of course we always hope to win those matches we schedule but they are going to be tough. All three of those teams coming in are pretty good.”

The Lady Blues and Bods both take on Mesa State and Winona State Friday and Saturday. The Bods have the additional task of taking on Metro State Saturday. With conference looming and a spring break week featuring the top teams in the nation, to get wins now gives both squads a little cushion when the season winds down.

“It’s definitely a risk,” said senior Rutger Vliegenburg. “The schedule gives us a chance to improve. But if we want to go to nationals we have to win those matches. We are going to play at the top. Just going to nationals is not enough for the team or me.”

To qualify for the NCAA North Central Regional May 9 and 10, a team has to finish the regular season .500 in Division II match play. The teams don’t want to underestimate competition but know Friday and Saturday are matches they should, and need, to win.

The Lady Blues completed spring exhibition play Saturday with a 7-2 victory against Cowley County.

“[Cowley] has a really strong girl that plays at the one spot,” said Hastert. “But [Diana Goldsmith] didn’t play her best match today. That girl is really good though, so it would have been tight either way.”

The Lady Blues will host Mesa State Friday afternoon and Winona State Saturday. Mesa is 4-4 and Winona 2-4 so far this season. The Lady Blues defeated Winona 9-0 last year.

But the Bods know all too well about picking up matches when they can, as this year’s seniors failed to qualify for the regional tournament their freshman year, finishing the 2004 season under .500. The Bods also beat Cowley County 7-2 Saturday.

“Its kind of hard to say where we’re at because we haven’t had a lot of matches, so we have to wait for the big matches to start,” said Vliegenburg. “Next week we’ll be able to see where everybody stands and how we are doing. In practice we do well and work hard.”

The Bods will host Mesa State Friday. The Mavericks are 1-3 this season. The Bods defeated the Mavericks 9-0 last year. The Bods will continue match play Saturday morning with Winona State.The Warriors are 4-4 this season.

The Bods then conclude match play Saturday afternoon with regional competitor Metro State. The Roadrunners put on a show at the fall ITA North Central regional. Roadrunner freshman Brando Lupo fell in singles finals to William Jacome of Nebraska-Kearney. Lupo eliminated Vliegenburg in the second round, the Bods No. 1 singles spot, 7-6, 6-3.

“He was a tough player,” said Vliegenburg. “That day he was better than me and I hope next time it’s the opposite if we play.”

The Roadrunners also had a finals appearance in doubles with senior Riley Meyer and junior Sascha Ruckelshausen. The pair fell to Southwest Baptist 8-5.

“There very tough and deep,” said Hastert. “They probably are the toughest competition out of the teams that are coming. We’ll match up pretty evenly but we have a little bit more depth down low so hopefully that carries us through.”