Players train for doubles. Photo by Sonja Brandt.
By Graham Friske
There are many high expectations for this year’s tennis teams, as the 2019 season, unlike previous years, saw many successes under new coach David DeSimone, including the women’s team posting a school record of 15 wins and the men’s team showing promise with a 10-win season.
The men’s team returns to action this spring with many familiar faces. This year’s squad is led by senior Luke Zoller, who has 59 singles matches under his belt. He was featured in the semifinals of the 2019 Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament.
“We have all the shots,” DeSimone said. “Everyone has the skills and capabilities to put it together on any given day. It’s just being patient and willing enough to wait for that opportunity in each point or each match.”
The women’s team received a lot of attention last season after their remarkable run. DeSimone, in his first year coaching at Concordia, led the team to the most prestigious season the team has had since the 2009 season. For his efforts, DeSimone won the GPAC Coach of the Year. This year, the team has lost alumna Marlene Maier, who won 17 of 20 single matches last year. However, the team returns several key stars like senior Angela Bell, who only dropped 3 of 15 matches.
The 2020 women’s team features local star senior Kirsten Wagner from York. At Concordia, she plans to graduate with a double major in chemistry and biology. Her productive career in high school caught the eye of former head coach Joel Reckewey, who recruited her to make an impact on the program. So far she has done that as she enters her senior season on a current 10 match win streak.
With such a productive season a year ago, Concordia expects results for a postseason run.
“I expect a lot out of our team this year,” Wagner said. “In my opinion, this is our year. We have a lot of talent in our lineup this year. The talent and abilities goes so deep in our team. GPAC better look out for us.”
Walking into the season, the women’s team is ranked second in the conference.
Competition resumed Feb 8. The team has been practicing hard since the beginning of the semester for these upcoming moments.
“We usually keep practices separated between the teams,” Wagner said. “Practices depend on the fieldhouse schedule, which is always busy because of all the teams that need to practice during the winter.”
The team tries to practice every day, even if it means practice starts as late as 8:45 p.m.
In the fall season, the tennis team only had one competition along with a few tournaments. However, practices in the fall only last for eight weeks. The spring semester features more competitive action for the tennis squad. Depending on the match, singles players may be forced to duel for as long as two and a half hours, depending on the matchup between players.
“Oftentimes towards the bottom of the lineup, it’s more of a consistency game, rather than an overpowering game,” Wagner said.
Wagner has appreciated having the support of her teammates and coach during her years in the tennis program.
“There is a really good family dynamic,” Wagner said. “Coach DeSimone invests into us, not only as players but as people. Having that small community within such a good community at Concordia is awesome.”