Young tennis teams have different expectations for season
The Augustana tennis teams have similar roster compositions but different expectations.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have older players to head a young roster. While the men try to catapult their record over .500, the women hope to continue their strong tradition.
The women’s team has won all of the last seven NSIC championships. They also went 25-2 last year, setting the school record for wins in a season as they advanced to the national championships.
Augustana hopes to better its finish at the national meet after falling in the Central Region Championship last season to Southwest Baptist, but they will have to do it without two of its top players from a year ago.
“Last year was incredible for us,” head coach Marc Kurtz said. “We graduated some strong players, but we can definitely improve from last year.”
Augustana graduated two women who were first team All-NSIC in both singles and doubles: Sydney Postal and Jessa Richards.
Postal went 22-0 in NSIC play across both singles and doubles, while Richards went 21-0 in NSIC play.
Richards also placed fifth in doubles at the ITA national championships, partnering with current sophomore Kornelia Staniszewska.
Augustana will likely rely heavily on Staniszewska this season, after she captured NSIC Player of the Year honors as a freshman. She went 20-1 in singles last year, including a perfect 7-0 NSIC record.
As far as leadership goes, Kurtz will lean on seniors Meredith Lawrence and Christine Olivo to guide a young team.
“They’ve been with us four years now, and they know what to expect out of this team,” Kurtz said. “We have four new freshman so it will be interesting to see how this team improves on an individual basis and how the lineup shakes out as the season goes on.”
Men turn to juniors for leadership
The men’s team has finished .500 the past two years and hasn’t had a winning season since 1995. The team will have to mature quickly in order to improve as the Vikings don’t have any seniors.
“We have a very young team this year,” Kurtz said. “Without any seniors, we will have to look for the juniors to step up and be the leaders for us.”
The Vikings have four juniors: Zach Adkins, Mark DeSpiegler, Reed Ritterbusch and Trae Olson.
“We have to stay healthy this year if we want to succeed,” Olson said. “If we stay healthy and play well, we will win plenty of matches.”
With such a young team, Kurtz must find out quickly which four players he’ll use at the ITA Central Region Championship , as the Oct. 1 tournament rapidly approaches.
“If they want to play, they have to step up,” Kurtz said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a junior, we will put the best guys out there that give us the best chance to win.”
The region tournament will wrap up the fall season for the both the men’s and women’s team before they resume play in January.