Men’s tennis competes in first competition

Story by Breann Schossow

Knowing that they had good practices behind them, the UW-Eau Claire men’s tennis team went into last weekend’s tournament with confidence, said Eric Wollum, senior and co-captain of the team.

“It was pretty positive,” he said.

The team traveled to the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Championship, hosted by Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.), for the event, competing against some of the top singles and doubles players in the area.

“It’s a huge tournament,” said Head Coach Tom Gillman. “It’s quite the undertaking, especially when you have as many players and as deep a team as we have.”

The team has a lot of new players, or, as Wollum says, “a lot of new talent.” With the loss of seniors, he said they wanted to show that they still have a strong team.

“I think we did that with this tournament,” he said.

This tournament allowed the younger players to get their feet wet, he added. It also highlighted some of the team’s strengths, such as playing doubles.

Two doubles teams competed in the ITA tournament. Junior Kris Kuna and senior Lars Olson entered the tournament as second seed, and moved to the fourth round, upholding the high ranking. The other pair, Wollum and junior Dirk Van Rybroek, were eliminated in an 8-2 match in round 2. Doubles teams from UW-Whitewater defeated both pairs.

Wollum also said that several freshmen had good showings during the weekend. Freshmen Joe Wollum and Andrew Carlos progressed to the fifth round during the Midwest Open Singles and Doubles tournament, losing 8-5 to a Whitewater team that won the championship.

Freshmen pair Braden Parman and Joe Meier competed into the fourth round, but lost in a 9-7 match against a team from Carleton College (Minn.).

“They weren’t really intimidated by the fact that they were playing in their first college matches,” Eric Wollum said.

Gillman said that goals for the team are different at this point of the year from what they are in the second part of the year. As of now, the team has been practicing for about four weeks. He said that during this process, players are picked, bonding begins and areas for the players to work on are found.

“Those are the most important things on our mind,” he said.

The teams’ next scheduled match is in early February against Coe College (Iowa). Until then, Eric Wollum said, the team will continue to build team chemistry, and “to keep in shape and keep on top of our games.”

Eric Wollum added that it’s important to build team chemistry especially when the lost seniors last year who helped the team stay together – alumni Phil Loprinzi and Kevin Fawcett.

“Since we have a lot of new faces, it’s good to try to get that going early in the season.”

Gillman said that to continue preparing, there will be video tape reviews, and goal setting as they prepare for the second part of the season.

“Pretty soon, it’s going to be in the players hands and hopefully they’ll have learned enough through the fall and have enough motivation to fix what they need to fix so we can have a good season,” he said.