Tennis shows youth, falls to 4-9

Alexander Weck

Head men’s tennis coach Ross Anderson came into this season with an interesting assortment of men for a first-year coach to deal with. Over half of this year’s squad is playing collegiate tennis for the first time. This inexperience became especially apparent this week.
The Vikings dropped four straight matches over the week, falling to Coe, Grinnell, Ripon and Carroll. Throughout the stretch, the Vikings were missing Nate Kish from the starting lineup due to an injured ankle.
Coe College arrived in Appleton April 14, ranked No. 23 in the nation. The meet ended 6-1 in favor of the Kohawks, prompting Anderson to note, “Coe is just too good of a team from top to bottom and we saw the effects of that.”
Fabrice Munyakazi Juru and Dan Hertel had a strong showing with an 8-6 No. 1 doubles win over the regionally ranked tandem of Chris Paasch and Sam Zerbib. Munyakazi Juru followed this up with a victory over Coe’s peskily consistent Ryan Yao – regionally ranked No. 10 – 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.
LU followed up against another Iowan foe with a 7-0 loss to Grinnell on Saturday. Munyakazi Juru was the only player to come close to success, losing in three sets 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 10-7 to yet another ranked player, Grinnell’s Dan LaFountaine.
“Grinnell is the powerhouse of our conference. We played four freshmen in the lineup and one senior with very limited singles experience,” Anderson said optimistically. “It was a beautiful day for tennis and I hope our student body keeps showing up to support our team because our guys really do appreciate it. We gave 120 percent effort and as a coach that is all I can ask.”
The next two matches would be significantly more disappointing for the Vikings. Sunday they fell 6-1 to Ripon. Travis Fondow picked up the only point for the Vikings against the Red Hawks with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) at No. 6 singles.
“We were looking forward to playing this match all year. Unfortunately, it fell on Easter Sunday and after two tough teams the previous days,” lamented Anderson.
“We were all just spent,” added No. 3 singles player Philip Roy.
To further the disappointment, the team dropped a narrow 4-3 decision to Carroll Tuesday, giving the Pioneers their first win over an MWC North Division opponent since 2003. After claiming the doubles point, the top half of the Vikings’ singles lineup went flat.
Wins by Kyle Nodarse and Nick Dufficy at No. 4 and 5 singles left the decisive final point up to Fondow at No. 6. Carroll’s David Bingham eventually prevailed over Fondow 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to secure the Pioneers’ first win over Lawrence in at least eight years.
One thing offers solace to this losing streak: At any given time during last weekend, there were no more than four years of varsity tennis experience on the courts for Lawrence – coaching included.