Tennis team continues path to nationals

Nathan Miller

After sweeping Emporia State 9-0 this past Wednesday, the No. 22 Ichabod tennis team could have peaked too early with tough competition lying ahead like No. 34 Northwest Missouri State and No. 35 Southwest Baptist. But with seeds in the MIAA tournament and the regional looming, the Bods are not about to let the ball stop rolling.

“We really want to go to nationals,” said Drew Hanson, sophomore. “A one seed in the conference tournament and regional is only going to help that, and it will most likely come down to us and Northwest.”

The Bods travel to Maryville, Mo. Wednesday to take on their conference rival the Northwest Missouri Bearcats in what looks to be an emotional and trying matchup after last year’s back and forth battles. The Bods lost to the Bearcats 6-3 in the regular season last year and then beat the Bearcats in the MIAA conference final 5-1, to give the Bods the first MIAA men’s tennis championship in school history. But the Bearcats would get the last laugh, knocking the Bods out in the second round of the NCAA North Regional, 5-2.

“We are really pumped up for the match Wednesday,” said Hanson. “Always with the rivalry, but also last year losing early in the season, then we beat them in the conference final and then they knocked us out of nationals.”

The Bearcats are 10-4 so far this year with three of the four losses coming to ranked teams. The Bearcats lost to No. 4 Drury 7-2, No. 5 Ouachita Baptist 5-0 and No. 18 Midwestern State 5-4. Wednesday will also be a chance for the Bearcats to rebound as they fell to unranked East Central 5-3 this past Friday.

The Bods on the other hand are on a roll and steam rolling over everyone in the process. The Bods are undefeated at 13-0, 2-0 in conference play, and have swept 10 of the 13 teams they played. However, the Bods have only defeated one ranked team, a task the Bearcats fell short of, in No. 18 Midwestern State 5-3 March 11.

“That was a close match we won all three double matches, and then managed to pull it out in singles,” said Hanson. “Even though it doesn’t look like it by the numbers, we have had closer matches. We have a really deep team and a great group of guys and I think that’s why some of the scores look so slanted.”

The Bods are No. 1 in the region and tied with the Bearcats on top the conference standings. Hanson explains that’s a major reason why the Bods need to stay focused, because every team is chasing them.

“We have to stay focused,” said Hanson. “All of these guys coming up are for real. Just because we have won 13 in a row does not mean these teams will be pushovers. Everyone is gunning for us right now because we’re No. 1 in the region.”

The Ichabods will take a day’s rest and then take on No. 35 Southwest Baptist Friday. Southwest Baptist is 6-8 on the season and 0-1 in conference play.

Lady Blues finally swat Hornets

For the first time in two years, the No. 30 Lady Blues tennis team defeated the Emporia State Lady Hornets 5-4 this past Wednesday. The win gave the Lady Blues the lone spot on top of the MIAA standings and extended their record to 13-0, 4-0 in conference play.

Julie Huyberechts, senior, wore the heroics on her shoulders in the Lady Blues victory. After leading in doubles 2-1, Huyberechts at the No. 2 singles spot, rallied back from a 7-6 loss in the first set, and came back to win the match 6-0, 6-1 to ensure the 5-4 victory.

The Lady Blues also travel to Maryville, Mo. Wednesday to take on Northwest Missouri. Northwest Missouri is 9-5 on the season, 3-1 in conference play. Then, Friday the Lady Blues will take on Southwest Baptist, who is 9-6 on the season, and 2-2 in conference play.