Grinnell’s men’s tennis team has had a long history of success in the Midwest Conference dating back to 2000. This weekend, they may be on their way to possibly their 10th consecutive conference title. The team will travel to Madison, Wis., to play Carroll University on Friday morning in the semi-finals of the championship tournament. If they win, they will go on to play the winner of the Lawrence-Monmouth match. Additionally, they will play all the conference opponents in singles games on Saturday and doubles on Sunday.
The team has worked hard this season to earn the top rank in the South Division of the MWC. Andy Hamilton ’85 has been coaching the team for 26 years and is proud of the team performing well in the face of some difficult opponents.
“We played some nationally ranked and regionally ranked teams… Our season, so far, has been one of mixed production—when we play against the ranked opponents, we have difficulty. When we play against the less highly ranked opponents we’ve been very successful,” Hamilton said. “The challenge for us is to make sure that we can be successful against the less highly ranked opponents and that’s the type of opponent we’ll face this weekend.”
In a game against Monmouth College last Saturday, the team managed to extend its winning streak in divisional play to 51 matches with a 6-3 win.
“As a team we played well,” Hamilton said. “We played good doubles—you always play 3 doubles to start the match and we were leading 2 to 1 after the doubles, then we played solid singles. We lost at number one and number two in pretty well-played matches by our guys and then we won 3, 4, 5 and 6 very handily.”
“This was one of our most important matches. Monmouth is probably one of the best teams in the conference and beating them means we got the number one seed in our division,” said co-captain Colin Johnson ’13.
Now as they wrap up the season, the overall anticipation is on the team to come out of the weekend with a win, which could mean great things for them in the future.
“I think we’ve been playing decently this year,” Johnson said. “We’ve had really high hopes for the season; we’ve been doing well and hopefully we can win Conference.”
Coach Hamilton believes that, based on results from earlier this season, the team has a good reason to hope.
“What I want from our guys is for them to play to their potential; I think if they play to their potential they’ll be successful. We’ve played 8 out of the 9 other schools [in the conference] and we’ve beaten all 8 of those schools,” Hamilton said. “So our goal is to be playing our best so that our talent level can prevail.”
The students are excited to finish up the season.
“[Winning] would be a great thing for Grinnell. Right now we’re ranked 14th regionally and we would like to get nationally ranked soon,” said Caleb Kumar ’16. “We have a lot of young talent this year, so hopefully our potential can get us though.”