The men’s tennis team is off to a 3-1 start after beating Luther College, UW-Oshkosh and Wheaton College at the Warhawk Invite tournament over the weekend.
The Warhawks are ranked No. 8 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division-III Central Region Poll and No. 21 in D-III by the ITA overall.
For the past six years, the team’s matchups with No. 11 Luther College have been close, but this year the ’Hawks stole the momentum early and defeated the Norse 7-2 at the Four Lakes Athletic Club in Elkhorn.
Coach Frank Barnes said the team has needed to work on its chemistry since its first match.
“The mental side of the game has been better, team bonds have been established,” Barnes said. “I felt we were really ready to go mentally.”
Senior Andrew Bayliss said winning first in doubles is something that takes the pressure off the team going into singles. Bayliss and junior Andy McGlashen won their doubles match 8-3 while sophomore Byron Balkin and senior Mitch Osborne won their doubles match 8-1.
“Our team played really well, especially the guys who got their chance to be in a real intense match for the first time because they sat on the bench last year,” Bayliss said. “Brian Klein and Kevin Friend played really well.”
The ’Hawks won every match except for the first two singles matches. Each match needed a super tiebreaker to declare a winner.
Barnes also mentioned that building up a lead in doubles is something that helps the team gain momentum and is almost insurmountable for the opposing team.
“Stepping off the court with a few wins in doubles matches always gets you pumped for singles,” Barnes said. “You start off with the right attitude and a little bit of confidence, and it’s also good to have a lead going into singles with a three to zero lead; it’s a race to five.”
The ’Hawks beat both the Titans and the Thunder 8-1 in Saturday’s matches.
Against the Titans, the ’Hawks swept the singles matches and only lost one doubles match. Against the Thunder, the ’Hawks lost one singles match and swept doubles.
The ’Hawks will host Augustana College on Friday in Elkhorn.