The men’s and women’s tennis teams start up the spring season
By Peter Melling /// Sports Editor
The men’s and women’s tennis teams are back in action! After attending the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Invitational in September, both Pioneer squads have been gearing up for the long haul of the spring tennis season at the Pioneer Tennis Dome under coach Patrick Dreves. How has this offseason shaped the teams, and how will they adapt to the competition?
One of the benefits of the long offseason has been the additional time for the teams to get in top shape and establish chemistry in the time since the tournament. When asked about what this period has done for the team, Carter Gee-Taylor (’15) said, “Overall, I think we grew. We are a young team, and with that comes some expected inexperience. The tournament is great because it gives experience and confidence (we hope) to some of the younger players. The tournament, plus the fact our team has spent a semester together, makes them a little more steady and ready to handle the stress of a season.”
The semester of practice has also helped the first-years of each team (six on the men’s team and seven on the women’s team) develop their skills and advance their level of play. Carter said, “Like I said before, they are young. The biggest way this manifests is in poor decision making during competition. The only real cure to such a problem is to let them make the mistakes, and get after them when they do. Our coaching staff is pretty good about that. I expect them to mature as tennis players over the course of the season because of it.” This improvement is already being felt on the court, as Gordon Barrows (’18) and Wiktoria Plawska (’17) both netted victories in matches against University of Idaho and Portland State University, respectively.
Competition looks to be tough this season, not only from within the Northwest Conference, but also on a Spring Break road trip down to Southern California (with matches against teams like Pomona-Pitzer College, Chapman University, Occidental College, UC Santa Cruz). When asked which competitor he was most looking forward to playing, Carter said it was Whitman. He said, “They are always on our mind as the team to beat. This will be my fourth year playing them. I enjoy it every time because I think one can see the growth of our team. I hope to see some more this year.”
With the continued maturation of the younger players and the tough schedule ahead for both teams, expectations for the Pios are high. It is simply a matter of fulfilling their potential and remaining in a groove throughout the season. When asked about his expectations, Carter said, “Generally, I don’t like to make calls about our ranking or who we will beat. I know we have a strong team this year, which puts us in a situation where we can be very good, and beat a lot of good teams. It will come down to work ethic and staying power. I think we have both, but I think we need to prove it.” The next home match for the men’s team is against University of Puget Sound on February 21, while the women’s home opener is on February 14 against University of Portland.