Tennis Struggles Early Against Div. II Foes

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Photo Courtesy of Don Adams Jr.

Brett McMillan | Sports Editor

Photo Courtesy of Don Adams Jr.

The Lindenwood men’s tennis team began its fall season in September with a 9-0 shutout of NCAA Div. II Maryville University [Mo.]. Its spring season started differently.

The Lions followed up their 3-0 fall season by losing the first two matches of the spring season 8-1 to NCAA Div. II Washburn University [Kan.], and Drury University [Mo.] on Feb. 4 and 5 in Springfield, Mo.

“Washburn and Drury are two very good programs,” head coach Bill Vahle said. “Two other good programs we’re going to play this year are Southwest Baptist [Mo.] and Northwest Missouri State. Those are all excellent teams from this region, from this area, and I would guess we will struggle against teams like that. We are kind of rebuilding a little bit.”

Drury swept all its singles matches versus the Lions. Cauther Schilling was the closest Lion to having a victory, losing his match by a combined three set score of 23-13.

LU did win its only doubles match of the weekend against the Panthers. Freshmen Juan Vicenzio and Rahui Sadwani won 8-5.

“The mens team, we have talent,” Vahle said. “I don’t think we’re overmatched with everybody we play. I think even the teams that will win against us, we’ll give them a tough struggle.”

Lindenwood won one singles match versus the Ichabods the previous day. Junior Eric Tucoulou won in straight sets by scores of 6-4, 6-7 and 10-7.

Washburn won all the day’s doubles matches. Tucoulou and Schilling lost their match 8-2, while graduate student Otavio Costa and Sadwani lost their match by a final of 8-6.

“I don’t think the reason we struggled against Washburn and Drury is skills,” Vahle said. “I think we always try to work on skills, and I think we can get better as doubles players. I think we usually do pretty well in singles. We usually struggle a little in doubles, and I think we’re struggling now. I think it is hard to get the chemistry of teams put together.”

Vahle said the coaches and reputation for excellence in MIAA programs such as Washburn is what helps them have consistent success.

“I think we are seeing elite programs, and I expected them to be good,” Vahle said. “I don’t think everybody in the MIAA is up to the caliber of Washburn and Northwest Missouri and Drury, and if they are, I’ll be surprised.”

Lindenwood currently is practicing when they can get time reserved on indoor courts. Vahle said the cold weather and coordinating schedules has made practice difficult so far, but completion of the new tennis courts will help remedy that situation.

“I think as we get later in the year, we’ll be able to practice more effectively, and play more effectively, because we’ve got those eight new courts,” Vahle said. “And we’ll have plenty of space to spread out and practice and not have to limit our practices.”

The men return to the courts on March 3rd at Northwest Missouri State University.