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Sports

Men’s tennis optimistic for spring season

Men’s tennis optimistic for spring season

NORMAL – The Illinois State men’s tennis team concluded its 2017 tournament season on a high note with 24 wins at the Redbird Invitational Nov. 3 and 4.

The team finished its season with a combined singles record of 38-32, and a doubles record of 16-17. Head coach Mark Klysner said the season went just about how he had thought it would go. The Redbirds had four new players on the season, one transfer and three freshmen.

“I thought it would take them a little time to acclimate, get used to what college tennis is all about and it definitely showed in the results and in their play,” Klysner said. Igor Kolaric is a transfer from the University of Hawaii and played in Germany before that. Their three freshmen are Cameron Petersen, Brandon Lew and Manuel Bernhard.

However, he said that as the fall went along, the players gained experience, improved on their game and got a better feeling for the competition and the ins and outs of going throughout a typical day. ISU participated in five tournaments before hosting their own. The original goal in mind was for the newer players to use those five tournaments as building blocks and to gain experience, all in preparation for the Redbird Invitational.

It turned out that strategy played out in ISU’s favor, as the Redbirds won 24 of the 27 matches in their final tournament. Petersen, Lew and senior Christoffer Greve all went undefeated in the final tournament and earned six wins each in tournament play. Junior Egehan Sertkaya finished with a stellar fall season and a team best singles record of 6-1. Bernhard and Greve had teamed up for the fall season and they finished with a 4-1 doubles record.

Klysner said his biggest takeaway from the fall was having a lot of opportunities to watch his new players compete in matches and practice. This gave him the chance to get more acquainted to their playing styles and what suits them best and what they need to work on moving forward.

What does Coach Klysner think they need to work on the most?

“Confidence would be number one for the young guys. They now know what it takes to win and they know the style of play is different in college. At this point, it’s about building their confidence and believing in themselves.”

Looking ahead to the spring schedule, Klysner said he’s confident about the schedule and he believes that the team has a legitimate chance to win every match. He designed the schedule so they don’t have too many matches against bigger and better schools. The main reason he did that is because he wanted the younger players to gain even more confidence and experience.

“Every match that we play we have a chance to win and that’ll probably help the younger guys,” Klysner said.

The Redbirds will open their spring schedule in Kalamazoo, Mich. with a match against Butler on Jan. 27 and a match against Western Michigan on Jan. 28. Their home opener is set for Feb. 2 when they’ll play host to Toledo and Illinois Springfield. ISU is scheduled to face both schools that day.

“Yeah this is a young team, but this is a very disciplined and motivated team,” Klysner said. “It’s hard to find teams that are always on the same page and all have the same goals and ambitions, but I can honestly say that these group of guys all have one common goal of winning the tournament title. It’s a very unselfish team and I think I kind of lucked out with such a great group of guys.”

Kade Heather

November 9th, 2017

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