FRANK CUSHMAN | SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
One team that has flown under the radar due to the campus being caught up in the post-season excitement of both the basketball and the hockey teams is men’s tennis. Men’s tennis has been playing since the beginning of February and last week began conference play. They were 4-5 heading into Monday’s match, in which they hosted Ripon College at the Western Racquet Club in Green Bay, Wis. By press time, the results have not made it in.
This year’s team is the most youthful at SNC, boasting just two upperclassmen, captain Kahlo Vue ’17 and transfer Matthew Voissom ’17.
“Kahlo has done an impressive job stepping up to a leadership role,” says Coach Matt Keesey.
He has been impressive indeed, as Vue is having to assume a lead role after the team graduated four seniors last year. Coach Keesey was quick to point out that the team as a whole has done an excellent job adapting to a new feel.
“I’m proud of everyone for the way they have all supported and pushed each other this year. Sometimes when a team is very young it can lack focus, but this group has done a good job of keeping their eyes on our goals and working hard.”
Coach Keesey is very pleased and identified the closeness of the team as a reason they are not only a great group to work with but an exciting prospect as they grow together.
“I think this allows them to push each other. They can critique and take criticism knowing that each of them has the best interests for the team and each other at heart.”
Sophomore Joe Oleniczak ’18 stressed this bond: “It helps us keep our energy up. When you know you are working for not just teammates but friends it gives you that little bit of extra motivation.”
This season took an early blow when sophomore standout Robert Quinlan ’18 was forced to end his 2016 campaign before it even got underway. After playing through and going undefeated with a torn labrum last season, the injury worsened during the soccer season and required surgery.
“There is no question he’s our best player,” said sophomore Tim Fifarek ’18. “It hurts the team when such a valuable member goes down, but I think everyone has rallied from it and is stepping up to fill their new role.”
Coach Keesey pointed to Ben Vande Zande ’18 and Alex Vandenberg ’19 as players who will step up and make a serious impact this year.
Fifarek and Oleniczak both echoed their coach’s sentiments in saying that a conference title is still the goal.
“It’s about the guys learning to do what they can do,” said Coach Keesey. “If we can play our game and focus on personal growth every day we will be a tough team. The goal is always a conference championship.”
As spring rolls in the men’s tennis team is looking forward to an exciting season and a bright future.