Tennis starts conference play with a split weekend

This past weekend, Lawrence University’s men’s tennis team had a set of home games against Monmouth College and Illinois College. The Vikings were able to shut out Monmouth in their matches 9-0, but had some difficulty when it came to Illinois College and fell 5-4. The games were initially set to be outdoors on Lawrence’s home courts but had to be moved indoors. However, this had no impact on the Vikings, as they had already been practicing inside and because their mindset remained the same: play aggressively and make good shots.

The matches against Monmouth marked the beginning of the conference season for the Vikings. They started off strong in their matches and everyone was able to put a win under their belt. Junior Connor Maloney won his match against Joseph Shie of Monmouth after two sets and a tiebreaker, 6-2, 2-6, 1-0 with a tiebreaker of 10-8. Junior Cade Francour also won his match after two sets and a tiebreaker against Monmouth’s Zach Harris, 3-6, 7-6, 1-0 with a tiebreaker of 10-6. “Connor Maloney had a nice win against a strong player from Monmouth,” stated Head Coach Steven Francour. “Evan Oriel was solid in singles and doubles against Monmouth.” Sophomores Oriel and Matt Chan came out on top against Monmouth, winning 8-3. Juniors Aidan Delgado and Andrea Arivella also had a stunning win against Monmouth, finishing the match at 8-0. Unfortunately, the Vikings’ strong wrong against Monmouth came to an end and their results wavered thin against Illinois College.

“We had chances against Illinois College to win and we put forth great effort,” stated Coach Francour. Delgado was able to pull ahead against Illinois College and bring a win to the Vikings, 6-1, 6-2. Francour, keeping steady for the day, also brought in a win for the Vikings, 6-2, 6-4. Freshman Cam Strawn performed well once again for the Vikings and defeated his Illinois College opponent, 6-2, 6-1. On the doubles side of the matches against Illinois, the Vikings struggled, but still came ahead in one match. “Andrea Arivella had a great day in doubles,” stated Coach Francour. Delgado and Arivella came out ahead in their match against Illinois College, 8-2, providing the Vikings with their fourth win against Illinois, but those four wins were not enough to have them come out ahead in the overall match play. “Against Illinois College, I think they were a little tougher than we expected and they were able to grind out the close victory,” stated Francour about his matches and the team’s performances. Looking ahead at their matches, the Vikings are continuing to work on their outdoor play.

Over Spring Break, the Vikings travelled to Florida to partake in a tournament. “Spring break went well for us in the sense that we were able to play tough competition in preparation for our conference season,” stated Francour. “We went down there to get some outdoor matches in before conference started while the weather is still poor here in Appleton.” The team came out behind in the tournament, 0-2, after two of their matches had been rained out and cancelled. Even though their opportunities to play outdoors were cut short, they still worked hard in the matches they played in order to get more practice and experience in during the competition. “The matches we played were competitive and we got better each day,” commented Coach Francour. With this opportunity to improve, the Vikings were able to get some outdoor playing time while also honing their style of play.

Looking ahead to their matches against Knox College, Cornell College and Grinnell College, the Vikings will need to stay on their toes and be adaptable throughout the weekend. “Our upcoming matches will be a huge challenge,” commented Coach Francour. “We will play three times in a 24-hour period. We are going to utilize our entire roster to save some wear and tear.” With time being a challenge for the Vikings, they will need to focus on their aggressiveness in doubles and their style in singles matches. “Strategy-wise, I think the biggest focus for the team right now is to dictate the play and don’t just play reactively to our opponent,” said Francour. “This is especially important in the conference because matches will be tight, and we need every advantage we can secure.” Having these things in mind, the team has their goals and sights set high and ahead as they prepare for their next three conferences matches of the season.

This weekend the Vikings will travel south to Knox College and Cornell College on Saturday, as well as Grinnell College on Sunday. The weekend will be difficult, but with the right mindset and the competitive nature, the Vikings will be able to progress further in their season and come out on top in the competition.