Tennis continues full steam ahead

By Konnor Barth (TheLorian)

This season has been anything but conventional for all Loras athletics, with tennis being no exception. Yet even in the midst of all the chaos, the drive to improve and win has never wavered. With both men and woman active in some capacity this fall season, these competition-deprived athletes are all waiting for their chance to prove themselves.

On the woman’s side, their internal hunger was finally satisfied with their season opener at home against Coe College. From the start of this match the Duhawks wasted no time making it very clear that they had something to prove. The Duhawks, with a mix of veteran leadership and underclassmen skill, came out of the gate sweeping doubles. With the duo of senior Audrey Hinz and senior Maddie Smith at 1 doubles, the duo of sophomore Lauren Diiulio and sophomore Sara Backus at 2 doubles, and pairing of sophomore Noely Baumann and first year Clair Moore at 3 doubles, the teams mix of experience and skill proved to be all they needed to get out to a 3-0 lead after doubles. Luckily, doubles only acted as foreshadowing for what was to come in singles.

Starting from top to bottom of the lineup, the Duhawks took 1,3,4,5, and 6 singles only dropping one matchup in total. The closest win for the Duhawks came at the 4 singles position with sophomore Sara Backus. After dropping the first 2-6, Backus came back to win the second set 7-6 thanks to a tiebreaker win for the set. All this led up to a third set super tiebreaker that Backus took, winning it 10-3 and with it also winning the match.

Another notable feat comes from Moore winning both her 3 doubles and 5 singles matches to start her college career 2-0. These performances would all lead to not only a commanding 8-1 victory over Coe, but also a clear message being sent to the conference that this Duhawk team is not to be looked over.

Sadly for this Loras College woman’s tennis team, their next match wouldn’t yield the same result. The second match of the season pined them against Luther College. Luther was coming off of an ARC championship title last year, and the match truly showed the importance of fighting for every single point.

Loras went down early after the doubles matchups. Even with the 2 doubles team of Backus and Diiulio pulling off a close 8-7 victory, it wouldn’t be enough for the Duhawks as Luther won at 1 doubles and edged out Loras at 3 doubles with a close 8-6 victory in their favor.

Going into singles the Duhawks knew they had some ground to make up, but just couldn’t seem to get traction against a tough Luther team. What sealed the fate of this encounter would turn out to be all of the close matches. With two separate singles matches being lost in a third set and the tight loss at 3 doubles, Luther would take 3 out of 4 close matches. The only difference between a 5-4 victory and a 7-2 defeat for Loras was those match-ups. Luther would go on the take this match-up 7-2 missing out only on the 2 doubles and the 6 singles flights.

Those 2 wins for Loras, however, will improve the doubles team of Backus and Diiulio to an impressive 2-0 start at the 2 doubles position. And as for Moore she still remains undefeated in singles for Loras as she also improves her record to 2-0.

The woman’s team will hope to regain their footing as they head into their next wave of conference matches, while in the meantime the men’s side are preparing for their only taste of competition this fall with the ARC individual conference tournament to be held in Des Moines on Sept. 26.

The men’s season this fall, for the most part, has been accompanied by an asterisk. Not knowing when or if they would be able to compete at all this fall. Instead of waiting around for competition, Coach Chad Fenwich took it upon himself to make sure the men’s team kept their competitive edge. Coach Fenwich did this through the introduction of a challenge ladder that pits teammate against teammate as they all fight for a top spot. The rules were simple. If you win the match, you take the higher person’s spot. This seemingly trivial idea was exactly what the team needed. Now as the announcement of the ARC individual conference tournament being back on arrived, the team is prepared with numerous matches already under their belts.

Though only time will tell, it’s fair to say that this Loras College tennis program is determined and ready to make a name for itself as a top contender in the ARC this year.

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