By David Parker @GG_Parker
Olivet’s golf and tennis teams began their fall seasons this month.
The men’s golf team faces the challenge of an inexperienced team this fall.
“We’ve got a fairly young team,” said assistant coach Damon Jensen. “We’re trying to build from where we were a few seasons ago. Just try to come together to develop as a team.”
Nevertheless, Jensen is optimistic about the team’s prospects for this season.
“We want to win our conference in the spring. Between now and then, we’ve got some tournaments that we want to do well in, build some cohesion as a team,” he said.
Among the notable players this season are sophomore Michael Bork and freshman Ryan Muzljakovich.
The women’s golf team believes they can drive the distance this year.
“The girls want to go to nationals this year,” assistant women’s golf coach Sara Rondeau said, “Because now we have a conference, we can qualify for nationals.”
The players confirm her beliefs.
“Collectively, we really think we can make it to nationals this year.” senior Nora Durkin said. “We’re confident in our ability. Even though this is only our third year as a team, we’re confident that we can shoot low.”
She is also confident in the potential of the team’s new recruits, as well as the abilities of the returning players.
“Our freshmen are looking good. They have a lot of potential and they are a good asset to the team. Our returning players came back ready to play and they look good,” Durkin said.
Among the other returning performers are senior Gwen Holmes, sophomore Lydia Bilyeu and junior Ashley Dinneweth.
Head men’s tennis coach Andy Gibbs sees this fall as an opportunity to develop the team for the future.
“We want to use the fall to gain some experience, particularly for our players who don’t have a lot of varsity experience,” Gibbs said. “We’d also like to develop our doubles teams, so those partnerships can carry over into the spring.”
While the Tigers lost fifth-year senior Seba Esquetini, their No. 2 singles player from last year, and will play without injured junior captain Landon Williams this fall, several strong players are returning.
Seniors Diego Gonsalvez and Camilo Giraldo are among these players, as well as two-time NAIA All-American Honorable Mention senior Julian Kurz.
The women’s tennis team has specific goals in mind for next spring’s season, such as qualifying for nationals and winning the conference, senior Taylor Stephens said.
“We’re just building off our team from last year and strengthening it that way,” senior Ashlan Allison said.
The coaching staff also sees an opportunity to continue to develop the newer members of the team.
“We have a deeper team than we’ve had in the past, and so we’re also trying to have our young players make the transition to playing college teams,” head coach Andy Gibbs said.
This year, Olivet will host the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central-East Regional tournament, for both men and women. The players are excited about the opportunity.
“I think it’s going to be awesome,” Stephens said. We’re going to get a lot more support from fans. Last year, we won the whole thing, so we want to repeat that.”
“The last couple years, we’ve had players qualify for the National Small College Championships,” Gibbs said. “We’d love to have players qualify this year.”