Men’s tennis clinches second going into the conference tournament

The men’s tennis team picked up yet another conference win this past weekend. The Vikings dominated the match, winning 7-2 by not only monopolizing singles, but also doubles matches. Junior Cade Francour managed to have two shutouts during both of his singles matches. “My source of motivation has always been to perform well for the team,” said Francour reflecting on his performance, “but I also want to have fun and make the most of my athletics experience.” Francour not only swept his singles matches, but also won his doubles match with the help of his partner, junior Connor Maloney. “Connor and I have played together all season,” said Francour. “Being good friends and former roommates, our chemistry is generally quite good.” 

Success in sports comes in part from the bond between teammates and coaches, but a love for the sport is also absolutely necessary in order to be successful. Francour commented, “I love the camaraderie and friendship that we’ve developed as a team, as these relationships will likely last beyond college.” That’s the beauty of being a Division III athlete. The hard work that it takes to be a student-athlete is worth it because of the connections that are made while playing.  While Cade Francour was a star this past weekend, the team also pulled through with key wins in the right places. Head Coach Steve Francour reflected on this saying, “We had great success using our power against Ripon. Serving big and hitting massive returns allowed us to gain control of the point early in the rally. With early control of a rally, one gets chances to finish at the net or with their strength”. 

Success apparently runs in the Francour family, as Coach Francour just celebrated his 300th win as a coach. Coach Francour commented on this achievement, saying, “I wasn’t aware that I was getting to 300 wins. This is my 29th year of coaching, so wins as well as losses accumulate. For me, coaching is also about working with student-athletes and providing them with opportunities to play their sport at a high level.  To have had the chance to work with so many great kids over my career is a bigger deal than winning matches.” Coach Francour didn’t let up when expressing his pride for his team. “The team this year has been very clutch in the big moments,” Francour continued. “We have won three matches this year by a score of 5-4. [Sophomore] Evan Oriel had a tough match against Illinois College and came up huge against Cornell to clinch [a win] for us. We have an experienced group who has been through the demands of the conference for a couple of years. This experience helps them to know what to expect during competition. We have one first-year player, Cam Strawn, who has been very instrumental in solidifying the bottom of our lineup. He has improved with each practice and match. Everyone has had to move up in the lineup this year, so that has been a challenge [because] the 2018 squad was also very solid.”

Being a head coach is time-consuming and stressful, but Coach Francour loved boasting about the rewards of coaching, saying, “I like working with athletes and seeing them grow on and off the court.  The journey isn’t always easy, but that is what coaching is about.  When an athlete completes their career, you hope they have had fun, improved and enjoyed the college athlete experience.”

Because of this win over Ripon, the men’s tennis team has officially clinched the second seed in the Midwest Conference and is only two games behind Grinnell College. The team will head to their conference tournament on Friday, Apr. 26. The four-team conference tournament will consist of Grinnell College, Lawrence University, Lake Forest College and Cornell College. As second seed, Lawrence will start their conference tournament playing number three seed Lake Forest College at 10 a.m. in Madison, Wisconsin. Men’s tennis is the first sport of the spring season to head to their conference tournament. A win would set the tone for the other Lawrence spring sports as they continue to compete and get closer to their own conference tournaments.