Over the past few seasons, UW-Eau Claire tennis coach Tom Gillman has brought both the men and women’s teams to South Carolina to participate in a week filled with matches and team bonding over spring break.
This year Gillman said his teams are up for a change of scenery as they will travel out west to Arizona for their annual spring break trip.
Although the trip west will be new for the Blugolds, so are the circumstances that come with the trip, as almost half of the men’s roster sat out with injuries this season, Gillman said.
“The guys have faced all kinds of challenges,” he said. “We have a younger squad so it takes time for them to get the hang of things, but we’ve had to depend on them because we have had so many injuries.”
Gillman said these injuries have created a bright spot for the team as the veterans have really stepped up and shown their leadership abilities.
The older players on the roster, healthy or not, have helped the younger players improve and become mature beyond their years, Gillman said.
“I really wouldn’t have imagined we’d be this successful with basically half of our starting lineup out,” he said, “so it’s a credit to the older guys getting the younger kids to step up.”
The most important part of the trip for Gillman this year, he said, is getting everyone some match play opportunities, as some years getting all of the players valuable time on the court isn’t easy, he said.
“I’m just unsure of how soon we will be looking at getting some of the guys back right now,” he said. “But evaluating the injuries and hopefully getting them back on the court is something we will be doing soon.”
The women’s team comes into spring play with a successful fall season under their belts as they went 8-2 during the regular season which led to a third place finish at the WIAC championships.
Gillman said he’d like to re-establish what made the team successful during their fall season and for the team to continue to keep up their gritty hard working reputation.
Team bonding, however, is something that brings teams together and is a big part in building team chemistry over the trip between the men’s and women’s sides, Gillman said.
“I think building some memories and chemistry between the teams is important,” he said. “And also you can really show some real improvement by playing several matches in one week, so we always are trying to get better.”
The men’s and women’s tennis teams will start match play at 1:30 p.m. this Sunday as they will face Glendale Community College (Ariz.).