In his 14 years of coaching, Tom Gillman has went on several spring break trips with his men’s and women’s tennis teams, but said he never has had as smooth of a trip as this years.
The UW-Eau Claire men’s tennis team’s spring break trip consisted of four matches against teams from four different states, spanning three days, with the Blugolds gaining a 3-1 record.
Eau Claire brought home wins early on against Buena Vista University (Iowa) 9-0, Nebraska Wesleyan University 9-0, and Bethel University (Kan.) 6-3, but fell in their final match to nationally ranked Carleton College (Minn.) 6-1, in a rain shortened match.
In the Blugolds first two matches against Buena Vista, and Nebraska Wesleyan the team came out in both singles and doubles, demonstrating what Gillman said was a strong showing of leadership and teamwork.
On Wednesday against Bethel, junior Kyle Hoffman said that Andrew Dahl and Will Weyenberg, who were the teams players of the week, were able to continue their consistent play to keep the Blugolds clicking with wins in doubles and singles.
But the strong play that Gillman said was consistent during the beginning of the week vanished in their final match against Carlton where they lost 6-1 due to the team’s struggles to adapt to the rainy and windy weather.
“As the week came to a close the weather turned pretty bad with wind and rain and some players struggled with mental toughness in the weather,” Hoffman said.
Despite the struggles in the shortened match against Carlton, in doubles, Hoffman and his partner Dahl took home the lone victory in a win over the no. 14 ranked doubles team in the nation at no. 1 doubles.
The victory was in sorts a moral victory for the team, Hoffman said and helped cap off what was a solid trip overall.
Gillman said that the disappointing loss against a top team like Carlton is another bump in the road that the team will have to overcome.
“Losses like this one are why we practice and continue to work hard,” Gillman said. “There will always be setbacks, but the guys know they will be able to come back even stronger against upcoming teams like La Crosse and Whitewater.”
Despite the focus on play on the court, the men’s tennis team also went into the spring break trip knowing that it would give them the ability to bond as a unit and have fun off the court during the time away from school, Hoffman said.
“The team being able to get closer as a whole from the trip is huge for us and will help us in singles and doubles,” Hoffman said. “We were able to go to the freezing cold ocean and mess around, and even saw a dolphin while swimming.”
Along with the fun in the sun and the work put in on the courts, the team hoped to take home more than memories.
Gillman said the team was able to bond the entire trip and came back with a new found confidence, something especially important with a team as young as this years.
“We showed some good things over this trip for such a young team and have continued to do so through the whole season,” Gillman said. “We’ve beaten teams we have never beaten before like Grinnell and Carthage, which just shows how our guys have gotten better.”
The Blugolds will travel to Madison on Friday to play Edgewood College, and will be back home on Saturday for their first home match since February against Wartburg College (Iowa).