Back to it

Hello Wabash People,
We are back on campus and classes are in full swing. Practice had started yesterday. It had been the third time we have all gotten together as a team. With three new faces and only one, Ricky Ritter, had graduated from last years school record team. It was a solid first day; coach gave us a quick introduction on our goals for the season. Major keys for this fall season stressed by Coach Hutchison were inner motivation, team bonding, focus, and conditioning.
To go along with Dr. Carr’s presentation on sport psychology, Coach put a heavy emphasis on motivation from within. The convocation held with Dr. Carr was heavily important for a tennis player. In being the only person on the court or having only one partner, tennis is a mental sport just as much as it is physical. The ability to convince and motivate yourself on the court and off the court to get better is huge not only for yourself but the team as well. With all athletes the goal is too improve; and with this inner motivation, improving will never end.
Inner motivation goes hand in hand with team bonding. Everyone is pushing each other to get better. With teammates pushing you that just boosts your own motivation to improve. You aren’t only playing for yourself but you have a team that relies on you just like you rely on them. Since the fall season is very short team chemistry is a key that will build champions. Three short weeks of practice is all we have until the ITA Regional Championships at Wash U. Even with having met with the full team a couple times there is great chemistry with us. We ended last year with what I believe to be some of the best team chemistry in the country. In adding three solid freshmen and losing one phenomenal senior we should be back to that elite level of team chemistry by the time we are in St. Louis.
A large portion of yesterday’s practice was conditioning and focus. Without focus it is very hard to improve everyday, not only on the courts but in the classroom as well. Since we are student-athletes and not athlete-students our schoolwork comes first and Coach has emphasized this many times. With the focus in the classroom and taking it to the tennis courts we will improve all aspects of our lives. Rallying back and forth, moving your feet, and never stopping; those motions take focus. Losing focus for a split second can send everything out of groove. While conditioning the aspects of focus, team chemistry, and self-motivation are key to success. The team will push you so you can push yourself harder, and with that you must stay focused in order to keep pushing hard. Coach Hutchison has drilled this into his teams since he began working here at Wabash. With this years team being a young team (3 SR. 1 JR. 4 SO. 3 FR.) it is key for the underclassmen to catch on quick.
This season is going to be a very fun and successful year, the freshmen are going to hop right in and contribute to the team. I am looking forward to another promising tennis season, and the way things are looking it will be another great one.

WAF,
Wade Miller

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KSI 2011

The Kerry Seward is the invitational tournament that we host every season. The tournament is named after a Crawfordsville native and Wabash tennis and basketball star that was killed in a car accident shortly after graduating in 1983. The past few years we have only hosted Division 3 teams from our region. It always proves to be a very competitive and busy weekend with lots of tennis being played.

This year, just like every Kerry Seward I have participated in (this was my fourth), the weather forced us indoors. Because we only have three courts in Crawfordsville, we always have DePauw’s courts on reserve in case we need to use them. Since they have six indoor courts, the use of their facility really makes this weekend possible. Each of the nine positions (3 doubles, 6 singles) is a separate tournament. Each position has a draw that, after the matches have been played, produces a ranking 1-8. Finishing first at your position yields 8 points for your team, second receives 7 points, and so on. After all the positions have been played, the team scores are tallied up and a team champion is named.

The Wabash tennis team played a solid weekend of tennis against a talented field. We were in four position finals (#2 doubles, #3 doubles, #5 singles, and #6 singles) and Ian beat Ohio Northern in the #6 singles final to win his position. Everyone played well and we ended up finishing third behind Coe College and Ohio Northern University.

It was an exhausting weekend of tennis, but with everyone playing at a high level, it gave us confidence for the rest of the season. This coming weekend is our biggest match of the season. When we play Wittenberg this coming Saturday morning, it will not just be our most important conference match of the year, but it will be the next chapter in what has become, in my opinion, our greatest competitive tennis rivalry. I say competitive because our greatest rival is definitely DePauw, but considering we haven’t beaten them in tennis since 1971, that is not a competitive rivalry. Wittenberg is our rivalry. They are a talented, scrappy team that will do whatever it takes to win. Luckily, they have not succeeded in that goal in my four years as a Wabash tennis player, but it is a guarantee that they will be eager to change that this Saturday. Hopefully I can talk more about the rivalry in next week’s blog when I’m writing about our decisive victory over the Tigers.

Please try to come out to support us the Saturday, April 2 as we face Wittenberg University at 9:00am and Calvin College at 4:00pm at home in Crawfordsville.

Wabash Always Fights,
Ricky

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The Second Half

Pulling back into Crawfordsville after an amazing trip to Puerto Rico marked more than the end of spring break. It also marked the start of the second half of our season.
In the first half, we managed to do some great things. We tallied up nine wins, are 3-0 in the conference, and have only one loss against regional opponents. But the second half will be the tougher, and more important, of the two halves.
The highlights in the second half will include crucial conference matches against Wittenberg and Denison, a trip to Kalamazoo for the Great Lakes Colleges Association Invitational, hosting the Kerry Seward Invitational, and, of course, the conference tournament in May. While these matches may be the most important ones left in our schedule, we must use the other remaining matches to refine our focus and prepare us for these bigger events. This coming week will be a big test of our refining and preparation skills.
On Wednesday, March 16, we play Rose Hulman. This match will be tough for several reasons. Rose always has a talented, hard-working team and we will have to make the adjustment back to indoor tennis after playing in the warm sun of the Caribbean (don’t you feel bad for us?). The Rose match is always a fun one too because they usually bring a good crowd and we have developed something of a rivalry over the past few years.
This Friday we will leave in the early afternoon to travel to Elmhurst College for a Friday night match against another talented team. We have had close matches with Elmhurst in the past and we are looking forward to another battle against a talented regional opponent. Saturday at 12:30PM we will stay in northern Illinois to play Lake Forest College. This will probably be the toughest test of the week for our team, but we have the confidence and ability to come out on top.
Please read our earlier blogs for more insight on our spring break trip AND become a fan of Wabash College Tennis on Facebook for even more updates and pictures! http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Wabash-College-Tennis/335837368058

Go Little Giants,

Ricky

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Nate and Wade talking about PR!

Whattup Wabash!!!

This is Wade and Nate reporting from Puerto Rico on Tuesday. We woke up today to our normal wake up call of several roosters crowing outside of the house. Today’s match was in Mayaguez at the University. The venue was the best venue we have played at all season. In fact these courts just hosted the BNP Paribas Davis Cup match between Puerto Rico and Paraguay on Sunday. The match went well today we both won our singles matches pretty handily, although the high temps and sun have been hard to get accustomed to. The team did well recovering from yesterdays setback to Sacred Heart and pulled out a solid 7-2 victory over D-2 Minnesota State. MSU brought its women’s team as well, which was a pleasant sight. There will be photos of the venue and action shots from the match on our Wabash tennis facebook page. We are in need of some followers so please like the page and check out all that we have accomplished so far this season. We enjoyed going to a sandwich shop for dinner, in which the menu was entirely in Spanish and they hardly understood English. Luckily we have Evan and Dan to help communicate. We also enjoyed some Baskin Robbins ice cream thanks to Peter making a bet with coach. The evening has been nice and calm. Nothing too special has been going on. We ended our night with some bonding time watching Glee with Coach and Evan. We are all really excited to take on the UCONN Huskies in tomorrow’s match.

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Rincon, Puerto Rico

It was quite funny all last week when almost everyone I ran into asked if we needed an assistant coach, another player, a team mom, an athletic trainer, or just a chaperone for our spring break trip.  The reason they were asking is because we are lucky enough to be in Puerto Rico for break.  I’m not going to lie it is beautiful here, 85 and sunny.  We are just a short walk to the beach and the house we rented is really nice.  Just so everyone knows, we aren’t just hanging out, we are here competing and working hard at becoming a stronger team.

You can view some photos from our trip here.

Peter Gunderman serving during Monday's match against Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico.

Friday was an extremely long day.  We left campus at 10am because I found a much cheaper flight out of O’Hare in Chicago.  We flew out at 3:20pm and arrived in San Juan at about 10pm.  From there we picked up the van and then had a 2.5 hour drive across the island to Rincon, our final destination.  We finally hit the beds at about 3am.  Saturday we got up and went to the grocery store and then headed to the beach to check things out.  Very cool area, Rincon is known for its surfing and as soon as we walked out there we saw guys catching some huge waves.  We had a practice from 4-6pm, our first time hitting outside since the fall season ended.  After that we came home and cooked dinner.

Sunday we had another short hitting session in the morning, lunch, and then spent time at the beach again.  It was an early night because we had a match early today.  Today we played Sacred Heart University, a DI program from Connecticut.  Two years ago they won their conference and got to play University of Texas in the first round of the NCAA Championships, so they have some experience playing at a high level.  The guys were ready to compete, though.  We lost 7-0 (playing DI scoring) but the scores were not indictive to how the guys played.  Every match was close and we definitely gave them a scare.

The Wabash tennis team relaxing in Puerto Rico.

Our main goal this week is to use these matches to get us ready for our tough conference schedule.  This Sacred Heart team is very similar in ability to Kenyon and Denison.  With this being our first match outside, against a senior laden line-up, I am pleased.  We got back from the match and cooked a nice dinner and as I sit here typing, the guys are hitting the books, talking to girlfriends, and watching TV.  Most are worn down from the sun and the tennis.

Tomorrow we play at 2:30pm against Minnesota State Mankato.  I don’t know much about the team other than they beat Albion College (D3) 5-4 yesterday.  That is somewhat of a good gauge for us as we have played Albion over the past few years.  We are looking to get a good win and continue to become better players and closer as a team.

By the way, driving a 15 passenger van in this town is rough.  The roads are so narrow and they just drive anywhere they want.  It doesn’t matter that I am the bigger vehicle, they will not get out of the way.  Have to take it slow.  We are taking a lot of pictures and going to post some here as well as on our facebook page, so check them out.  Comments are always welcome!

Wabash Tennis Always Fights!

Coach

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Being Deliberate

I woke up early this morning with nervous energy.  Getting up early is nothing new in my household, since I have a 4 year old boy with abounding energy, but this morning was different.  Today at 5:00pm your Little Giant Tennis Team will face the Earlham College Quakers at the Collett Tennis Center on campus.  While the nervous energy?  Because I am coach and that’s what we do.  The main reason is this a good Earlham program, the main reason is their coach, a Wabash grad and former player under me.  He has done an outstanding job of recruiting and has taught his kids what it means to compete.  Earlham is no longer in the NCAC, which should take some pressure off, but it is still an in state rivalry. 

The past 2 days at practice we discussed how important the doubles will be in this match.  If we can get at least 2 of the 3 doubles matches, we will have the momentum going into the singles.  The guys grasped the importance and had excellent sessions on Monday and Tuesday.  We focused on being deliberate in every aspect of the match; understanding that by dictating the point, you put pressure on your opponent to step up their play, which is not easy.  We focused on first serve percentage and making consistent, quality returns of serves thereby forcing your opponent to do something effective with their next shot.  We also turned our attention to trusting the decisions made on court, believe in your strategy and have the confidence to see it through the entire match.

Being deliberate is our focus for the season, but not just for tennis, in every aspect of their lives.  When studying, be deliberate with the readings, don’t just read the words, comprehend the meaning behind them.  When talking with professors and other students, be deliberate in your discourse, think about what you are saying and listen to the responses.  And while at practice, don’t allow yourself to be okay with missing shots.  In every drill, be deliberate in your actions whether it is hitting crosscourt groundstrokes, practicing serves and returns, or running sprints.  If these tasks can be accomplished, come match time, we will be focused and ready to compete with confidence and mental toughness.

Tonight is going to be fun.  I have full faith that our team will come out ready to fight for every point.  These guys work hard in the classroom and on the tennis court, when it is finally match time that will translate into success.  If you aren’t doing anything before the big basketball game tonight, come to the indoor courts and cheer on your Little Giant Tennis Team, start time 5:00pm.

Wabash Always Fights,

Coach

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Matches Begin

Everyone on the team was definitely looking forward to February 3. That date marked the first opportunity we would have to compete against someone other than a teammate. On the opposite side of the net that night was Franklin College, our first opponent of the 2011 season. That Thursday, the team came out focused and ready to fight for our first victory. We were not able to play Franklin last year due to an unexpected event, but this year we ready eager to get our first match under our belt and start the season 1-0.
The tone was set early with our doubles teams. Our #3 doubles team of Evan Bayless and Ian Leonard won a decisive 8-1 in their first match together as a team. Both Evan and Ian have seen time at #1 doubles in their Wabash careers, and are proving to be an excellent team. Peter Gunderman and I, Ricky Ritter, were next to score a team point for Wabash with an 8-4 victory. Peter and I have played doubles together for the last two years and the combination seems to work really well. Our #1 doubles team faced a little more of a fight. Daniel Delgado and Wade Miller, two freshmen, are playing #1 doubles for us this season and they faced a tough Franklin team, but were able to pull out a win 9-8 (4). That match was a huge win for their confidence and an equally huge match for the team because it meant we were up 3-0 after doubles with momentum on our side.
We were able to get the job done in singles, winning five of the six remaining matches, and record our first victory in 2011. A good 8-1 win was definitely a great way to start this year.
The following Saturday, we had two matches scheduled, Augustana and Hanover. Unfortunately Hanover got to Indianapolis and had to turn around due to the bad weather haunting central Indiana. That meant we really had to give Augustana everything we had. We knew doubles would again be key. #1 and #3 both won close matches, but Peter and I, who were up a break early, seemed to lose focus and ended up losing 8-5 to the exact team we had beaten the year before. We knew that was a big loss, but also knew that being up 2-1 still put us in a strong position to win the match.
The past two years, our score against Augustana has been 5-4; we finished on top two years ago, they won last year. We knew this year was going to be another nail biter, and it was just that. Winning the close matches is key and three of the six singles matches (#1, #3, and #6) went the distance, each playing a full third set because the match had not been decided. Unfortunately, we lost all three of those matches. Another tough loss at #2 gave Augie the five points they needed to win the match. Losing 5-4 is never fun, but we are hoping to use that loss as fuel during practice and throughout the rest of our matches. A close loss this early in the season is not a horrible thing, but we will need to learn and grow as individual players and as a team to accomplish the goals we have for later in the season.
We travel to Ohio Wesleyan this weekend to play OWU, in our first conference match of the season, as well as Capital University.

Wabash Always Fights,
Ricky

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