The Loras tennis teams took to the conference tournament last week, facing some stiff competition in the first round. The men’s team fell to Wartburg 5-0 in the first round, and the women found themselves in a similar situation, falling 5-2 to Central in the first round.
This was the men’s first appearance in the Iowa Conference Tournament since 2007. No. 1 doubles put up a fight in doubles play for the Duhawks, eventually dropping the match 8-5. Wartburg continued to capture the remainder of the points in doubles play to put them up 3-0. Singles play was also tough as No. 3 and No. 4 singles dropped their matches, allowing for a Wartburg sweep of the first round.
Despite the heartbreaking finish to the season, the Duhawks had some great takeaways from their 2016 campaign. They finished 9-10 on the year under first-year head coach Chad Fenwick, which was a significant improvement from past seasons. The men also had two key wins in conference play and put up an astounding record of 7-0 when playing away matches.
“Our end result wasn’t what we wanted, but we still have work to do,” Fenwick said. “We have to develop to beat these power teams in the conference.”
Fenwick couldn’t be more right, as the IIAC was and continues to be a conference with its fair share of powerhouse teams.
The men don’t have to worry about filling senior shoes, having no seniors on the team. They will return stronger and more skilled next season.
The women’s team competed in the Iowa Conference Tournament the week prior and faced a similar result. Despite the loss to Central in the first round, the women put up a fight in doubles play, attempting to intimidate their opponent early.
In No. 1 doubles, sophomores Kylie DeWees and Sam Pietruszynki put up a win, raking in an easy 8-4 victory. First-year Emma Cooke and junior Jessica Dickhut followed up the impressive performance with their own victory at No. 2 doubles. With an 8-5 win, the Duhawks looked as if they were on a roll.
Unfortunately, the team lost momentum after their first two wins as they dropped the third doubles match and faced adversity in singles play. Central picked up four singles play wins right out of the gate, allowing the Dutch to take the victory 5-2.
The women posted a fairly impressive season despite the first round loss, finishing 7-13 and earning a couple key wins within conference play that earned them a spot in the tournament. When asked about the conclusion of the women’s season, Coach Fenwick noted that he is “extremely hopeful” for the future of the program, as there are no seniors on the women’s roster either.
Going forward, the future of the Loras tennis program is looking brighter than ever with every athlete on either roster planning to return for another season. Look for Loras tennis to make big improvements as the next season draws closer for the eager Duhawk squad.