Tennis looks to ace spring season

By Rachel Kearney

The men’s and women’s tennis teams are looking to be highly successful this spring season under recently appointed head coach Obie Coomer.

“We hope to go deep into [National Athletic Intercollegiate Association] nationals and we should be ranked in the top ten because of our depth,” sophomore Seth Perry said.

Both teams won their first matches against Wheaton College this past weekend. The men were led by sophomore Julian Kurz, a transfer this year, while the women were led by freshman Aziza Butoyi. Both Kurz and Butoyi are native to different countries, Germany and Burundi respectively.

The men’s team was ranked 23 in the first regular season NAIA. Their team features the number two doubles team in the nation, Kurz and freshman Landon Williams. The duo placed second at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Small College National Championships this past fall.

On the women’s side, the team received votes in the first regular season NAIA poll. According to article from Jan. 26, Butoyi was ranked 42 out of 840 players in NAIA. She also won the ITA Small College Regional Championship in the fall but did not participate in the national tournament. But Butoyi isn’t the only player making an impact.

“We have a lot of good players,” freshman Lindsey Peterson said. “I think the experience of our top players will come through.”

Both teams said that they thought their teams would do better this season. The men qualified for the NAIA tournament last spring, losing in the first round, while the women fell just short of qualifying.

Players were eager to explain why they should be successful this year.

“Everyone is friends with each other,” senior Billy Ratthahao said. “It’s easy to encourage each other and not be critical.”

Sophomore Cassie Brainard agreed for the women’s team.

“I think we’re going to push each other to improve as the season goes on,” she said.

Brainard and other players also said that Coomer is another reason the teams should have good seasons. They were quick to praise the coach, who coached the teams prior to former head coach David Vance’s appointment two years ago.

“Coomer is excellent,” Rattahahao said. “He is very well-spoken and a down-to-earth man. He’s focused.”

Peterson added that his experience helped.

“He knows what he’s talking about,” she said.

Kurz also agreed, summing up his thoughts on the new coach.

“He’s a great guy, great guy,” he said.

The teams travel to the University of Northwest Ohio this weekend. They then will travel to Florida over spring break, where they will play five matches in seven days. Both teams look forward to starting the season off right.

“We’re going to have a ball causing a racket over spring break in Florida,” Williams said.

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