Reflection: Baldwin, Michel, Fenwick bring fresh breath to tennis team
The Lorian looks at the doubles team that’s been crushing it on the court since 2015
While the men of the Loras tennis team are currently riding a three-game winning streak, it’s important to take a second to see how far the program has come.
The fall of 2015 brought new talent and new coaching to Loras. Between 2012 and 2015 the team had a combined one win. Since then, the 2016 team went 9-10 and the 2017 team 13-7, being above .500 for the first time in over a decade.
Head Coach Chad Fenwick has definitely brought a new work ethic and set of expectations to the program. With players like juniors Sean Baldwin and Riley Michel, the program is primed for a top season this spring.
The Duhawks are sitting at 4-2 in the spring season so far, with the entirety of their conference schedule to play. They are set to take on Buena Vista this Saturday in Waterloo, IA, their final non-conference match before delving into the IIAC.
Q: How did you get started playing tennis? Did you play in high school?
Baldwin: I started playing tennis in the summer before eighth grade. My brother convinced me to take private lessons, and I had enough fun to continue in high school. Tennis was never really my favorite sport, but it has always been my best.
Michel: I played when I was really young. I quit, but then started back up again in high school. I started because my uncle played and told me it was fun. He played at Loras and graduated in 1996.
Q: Did you guys know each other before coming to Loras? Were you friends or partners first?
Baldwin: We didn’t know each other before Loras. I messaged him early during our first year, asking if he’d like to hit. We became really good friends starting that day. He was my first real friend at Loras, and is still one of my best friends.
Michel: We knew of each other but hadn’t actually met. Our coach told us about each other, but that was it. I think we became friends and partners at about the same time.
Q: What makes you guys such a great team?
Baldwin: I think we’ve built a strong doubles chemistry over the past few years, and a lot of that comes from sheer competitiveness. We both hate losing, especially to each other, and that impacts the way we play and practice. We like to lean on our competitive edge in close matches. We also do well picking each other up when the other isn’t playing well, and we recognize if something is wrong with the other immediately. This allows us to call different plays, change our style, or try something different. We wouldn’t know to do this if it weren’t for our familiarity with each other on and off the court.
Michel: We have played together for so long now that we know how each other plays and we trust each other. We complement one another and generally know what the other person is going to do on every point.
Q: Do each of you have your own strengths/weaknesses? What are they?
Baldwin: Our styles of play complement each other well. Riley can serve well, and volleying is one of my stronger skills.
Michel: Sean is a lot more consistent and better at the net, while I hit harder.
Q: Do you think being such good friends translates onto the court?
Baldwin : Yes. We know each other well, and we know how the other person likes to play. It’s important for me as his partner to know where he is at and where he might move at all times. This is something I’ve gotten better at anticipating. It forces our opponents to really move us around the court to beat us.
Michel: It helps. We don’t really get mad at each other while playing, which helps keep us calm and focused.