By Danielle Williams
Grinnell’s men’s tennis team has had a long history of success on the courts. This past Saturday, the team played as a split squad, picking up a couple of easy wins against St. Norbert College and Hastings College. The traveling squad lost to Gustavus Adolphus College, but was able to pull through and beat Macalester 5-4.
“I was pleased that our home group was able to beat St. Norbert College… and I was also pleased that our road group was able to beat Macalester 5 to 4 because a victory over Macalester helps us in our regional ranking,” said coach Andy Hamilton ’85. “We’re trying to maintain 10 years without losing a match in the conference.”
Coach Hamilton has been coaching the men’s team for about 17 years, so he’s had a long time to see the strides that they’ve made to become this successful. In addition to being a very large team, this year the players are very young. With only two seniors and no juniors, the team of 23 is made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores.
“I can say that this team is perhaps the deepest team [we’ve had] and it’s actually the largest team we’ve ever had in Grinnell. On average we have 9 or 10 lineup caliber players—that’s a good number for our team—and right now we’re somewhere between 13 and 16 lineup caliber players,” Hamilton said. “There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm because the players want to get in the lineup… it’s just a really good environment right now.”
“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, but having these seniors on the team has been a positive impact,” said Rob Storrick ’15.
Despite the fact that tennis is an individual sport, the players find themselves spending as much time with one another as any other team on campus.
“They seem to be very supportive of each other and when they do get the chance to play they take advantage of that opportunity which is exactly how I want our program to be,” Hamilton said.
“It’s one of the closest teams on campus… We hang out a lot on weekends, during lunch and dinner and… we really look out for each other,” said Ameer Shujjah ’16 .
“We haven’t had any problems between the players…everyone’s so close and we’re all really good friends so I think that really helps us on the courts. And I think we do a good job of supporting each other. The thing is in tennis, you’re in a line-up so if you’re playing six, you’ll want to move up to five but there’s no ill-will towards each other,” said team captain Daniel Nellis ’13.
As for their next match, the players seem to be very confident that they will continue this streak and remain true to Grinnell’s slogan: “No Limits.”