By Sally McGuire
The spring seasons for the men’s and women’s tennis teams have begun. The teams played against Oklahoma Wesleyan University Feb. 27 and Central Christian College March 6. The women came out with a win for both matches and are undefeated this season with a 2-0 record.
The men won some individual matches against Central Christian College, but not enough for a complete win. They won two of their nine matches. “The girls usually win more often than the guys do. The guys’ competition usually brings in a lot of foreign people and it’s a lot harder competition, and it’s a little easier for the girls,” said Melissa Roetzer, biology freshman.
Nine matches have yet to be played throughout the rest of this month and April.
The spring season will bring changes in the game. “We actually play conference teams now and there are more meets. We have longer car rides,” said Cole Ebenkamp, business and marketing freshman.
Fall is more of the off-season to get the team ready for conference play. “I like the spring season because you get to actually play a lot more. In the fall, there are only three or four matches,” said Jacob Tafoya, business and computer information systems senior.
The practice in between matches is crucial. “We run and condition for the first 15 minutes, and then we either do drills or play challenge matches, just to see who plays well together and to see the lineup for the ladder,” said Roetzer.
Match play happens more often in the spring than in the fall during practice. As opposed to conditioning in the fall, the team practices matches during practice to perfect their skills when it comes time for the matches against other schools.
The team has anticipated this season with positive attitudes. Randy Smith, head coach, has encouraged the players to succeed at the game. “Our coach has more structured practices, and there’s a lot more match play,” said Tafoya.
The athletes are seeing improvements as Smith pushes them to progress. “He’s trying out new things to see what works best for all of us,” says Katie McNett, English education freshman. “I definitely want to improve my personal game, but I also want to see the team do really great at conference and just do really well overall.”
As for the rest of the season, Smith’s good outlook has clearly rubbed off on the players. “I think we stand a really good chance of making it to nationals, so I’m excited to see how far we get as a team,” said Roetzer.
The next Builder tennis match will be March 23 at Southwestern against Central Christian College. This is the first game that will count for Southwestern’s NAIA record this season.