On Wednesday evening, the Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams gathered in the tennis dome for a regular practice set to iconic nineties hip-hop duo Outkast’s greatest hits. Hot off a 9-0 victory in an exhibition match against Bellevue College this past Sunday, both teams appeared optimistic about fairing well in the upcoming play-off season.
After four conference matches, both teams are 2-2. Following a grueling pre-season spent partly in the Southern California circuit, the teams are picking up wins more consistently and by a larger margin.
A loss against Pacific Lutheran kept the Women’s team from securing a spot in the top four in last year’s Northwest Conference championship bracket. However, following the withdrawal of Pacific’s Women’s team from this year’s conference, LC will likely vie for the top four against Linfield, Whitman and the formidable George Fox.
According to Co-Captain Arielle Bloom ’24, the team is currently projected to be third or fourth in the conference.
“Unfortunately we had to play George Fox as the first match of the season and we had our number one player out for that match,” Bloom said. “Had we played them later in the season it could have been a different outcome.”
George Fox’s tennis program has a reputation for consistent performance and the athleticism of their players on both the Men’s and Women’s teams. “George Fox is the best in the league,” Kai Wills ’26 said. According to Wills, their teams prioritize tennis to a Division I standard. Fox tends to scout higher brow recruits and expects players to practice twice a day.
However, Landon Cronin ’26 of the Men’s team believes that this has been George Fox’s weakest year of late.
“They just lost a lot of good seniors,” Cronin said, adding that two of whom were All American. “That was a big hit for them.”
Other players on the Men’s team feel that George Fox’s losses will bode well for LC’s chances in the play-offs.
“This is probably one of our best chances with Fox,” Bennett Gazor ’25 said.
Bloom concurs on behalf of the Women’s team, citing that new strategies are earning the team match wins.
“This season we have had consistent doubles partners,” Bloom said. “In previous seasons we have actually switched partners which makes it hard to build that chemistry.”
Both teams currently feature a healthy set of highly motivated, first years, as well as a strong old guard of juniors and seniors. Still, players of the Men’s team have varied predictions about how play-offs will pan out.
“We are not exceeding expectations,” Wills said. “We are kinda right where we need to be — we’re looking like we are heading into play-offs but there are still teams like George Fox that are really hard to beat.”
Cronin chimed in saying “we are in the spot we need to be (and) most likely are going to make play-offs … but I don’t really think we met expectations.”
The two teams establish a set of expectations with their coaches at the beginning of each season. This collaborative process allows the teams to determine what to improve upon in the pre-season and collectively establish goals for tournament season.
According to Head Coach Jimmy Chau, the team’s goals will always fluctuate according to the background and motivation of its players. This year, he attests that both teams want to make the top four in the conference.
“We’re asking for a lot this season so he’s giving us a lot,” Cronin said. “I don’t think we mind the challenge.”
Miles Stone ’24 feels that if LC can get through Fox, which he confesses may be a difficult task then they can prepare for other teams vying for the conference championship.
“(George Fox) is really our match-up,” Stone said. “The road goes through Fox,” Stone said.
In their next conference match, LC will host the University of Puget Sound on April 9.