Section: Sports

Tennis teams ready to impress

Tennis teams ready to impress

Grace Winslow ’18, left, and Maggie Sweeney ’19 beat Case Western Reserve University in doubles on Saturday. Photo by Emily Stegner

Each season the coaches in Kenyon’s conference vote on where each team will likely place when championship season comes around. Lords tennis was chosen to win the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) this season, with the Ladies picked to take third behind Denison University (2-0; NCAC 0-0) and DePauw University.

It comes as no shock that the men’s team is ticketed so high. “We’ve won [the conference] nine years in a row,” Head Coach Scott Thielke said, “so certainly to win it for the 10th year in a row would be a great accomplishment.”

Though early in the spring season for both teams, men’s tennis is 1-2 after beating Indiana Tech (Fort Wayne, Ind.) (3-3) 8-1, and losing 6-3 to both the University of Chicago (5-0) and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (2-3).

“The men are kind of starting a little slower than normal, because we’re currently ranked no. 10 in the country, so we were actually upset by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater,” Thielke said.

The match on Feb. 6 against Wisconsin-Whitewater dealt a heavy blow to the Lords, as their opponents were ranked 16 slots below them. “That’s actually not a good loss for us,” Thielke said.

Not all of the weekend was bad, however, as senior captain Sam Geier beat a player from the University of Chicago ranked fifth in the country, and later a player from Wisconsin-Whitewater ranked 20th.

“He sort of put himself in the driver’s seat for qualifying for nationals as an individual for singles and now he’s just got to keep playing well,” Thielke said.

The Ladies, meanwhile, have beaten Indiana Tech 9-0 and suffered a close loss (6-3) to Case Western Reserve University, currently ranked 20th in the country.

Thielke is pleased by their progress so far, satisfied they are slated to place third in the conference.

“I certainly think that that’s the correct place for us to be on paper but I think we may certainly challenge to win the conference title this year,” Thielke said.

This year, Thielke predicts a certain layer of depth will be added to the team, as first years Annie Reiner and Maggie Sweeney will be adding their talents to the mix.

In the match against Case Western Reserve on the sixth, Reiner won no. 6 singles and the duo of Sweeney and Grace Winslow ’18 beat Case Western’s team of Taylor Sweeney and Nina Cepeda 8-6 in the no. 2 match-up.

“Things are looking pretty promising for us — I mean, we’ve only had two matches so it’s hard to tell but we have a lot of great freshmen coming in,” Elise Altschuler ’16 said.

“We put up a really good fight against [Case Western]. I think they were really shocked, and we were all proud about how that turned out.”

Along with Reiner, Sweeney and Winslow, Diana Aboubakare ’18 won her  no. 1 singles match against Nithya Kanagasegar 6-2 and 6-3.

“She’s a tough competitor,” Altschuler said. “A pretty tough lock on number one.”

Aboubakare was seated first for Kenyon’s match against Case Western Reserve and won NCAC newcomer of the year in 2015.

“We have a lot of good options and our team is really deep this season,” Altschuler said. “The team has grown a ton.”

Altschuler said one of the highlights of her time on the team has been developing closer bonds with the men’s and women’s teams.

As a senior, she looks forward to leaving behind a team that will continue to improve, but not before the Ladies beat Denison; the last time they did so in tennis was in 2001.

“We’ve always been right there with them, so I think that would be a really sort of neat way to end,” Altschuler said.

The Ladies will not play Denison till March 28 but the Lords and Ladies will be playing the University of Northwestern Ohio on Feb. 13 in Lima, Ohio.

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