The Oracle

The ball is in their court

Tough competition has given Hamline’s tennis teams a rough time, but they have faith in their future.

Junior Brandon Kuether returns a ball during one of his two singles matches last Saturday. Kuether lost both of his matches, but Hamline managed to split their matches on the day.

Josh Dungan, Sports Editor

Junior Brandon Kuether returns a ball during one of his two singles matches last Saturday. Kuether lost both of his matches, but Hamline managed to split their matches on the day.

Sam Lindquist, Reporter

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Fierce competition and new challenges have faced the men and women of Hamline’s tennis teams. Both are dealing with a conference that is as competitive as ever, in addition to adjusting to a new head coach.

Julia Courter is the new head coach for both teams, and is training both teams harder than ever before by increasing practices and, for the first time, having the teams work out in the weight room together.

“All the practices and extra workouts haven’t transformed into results yet, but it’s getting closer and closer,” junior Matt Seracki said.

With a new coach, there’s been a bit of a culture change with the teams.

“A new coach changes the culture of the team,” Seracki said. “It’s been a challenge to be able to take in what Coach is trying to tell us and do it, while switching muscle memory and how you think about the game.”

Players from both the men and women’s team commented that besides being strict about workouts, coach Courter is also prioritizing recruitment for both teams more than coaches prior.

“New leadership on the team next year will help us improve even more,” Seracki said.

The women’s team is 2-10, with their wins coming down in Florida against Lawrence in a 6-3 decision and a dominant 8-1 victory over St. Olaf last Saturday. Their team has been struggling with a numbers crunch, and will be well in need of a strong recruiting class over the next year.

“I think the women have been faced with a tough situation of not having as many players or depth as we have in the past… We have seven on our roster right now and will be graduating four of those players in May,” senior Lilli Denison said.

Despite losing five games in a row, the men are performing better than they have in the past. Their overall record is 5-7, with their most notable win being a 5-4 win over St. Olaf in February. They had their best opening season in several years, winning three of their first four games.

The two teams traveled to Florida for their spring break trip this season, which brought about a mixed bag of results. The men’s team went 2-4 and lost two of their matches in the final grouping. The women’s team played three matches and went 1-2.

Something that both teams can agree on is that each of their teams has a strong sense of teamwork and chemistry. Courter has been working on having the teams bring more energy to their work.

“One of our strengths this season has been the energy we have brought to matches and tournaments,” Seracki said.

This season has also seen a more team-driven approach this season, as past years had seen the tennis teams nearly as focused on improving individual skills and statistics as working to make the team as a whole better.

“We all have a collective agreement on where we want to be at the end of the season,” Seracki said. “It’s good that we’re a close team, because if we weren’t, we could never make it work.”

Both the men and women’s teams have significant in-conference games remaining in their season.

“The competition in the MIAC is the same [as years past],” Seracki said. “Gustavus, Carleton and St. Thomas have always been at the top.”

With plenty of matches left on their schedule, the teams are looking forward to more conference action.

“We’ve always had a competitive conference,” Guarin said. “There are no easy wins.”

The men’s team returns to action this Friday, Apr. 14, for a home match against UMN-Morris. That match is expected to begin at 2:00 p.m. The women have a slightly longer break, and will be returning to action Apr. 19 with a 4:00 p.m. home match against UW-River Falls.

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The ball is in their court