Manchester University
Oak Leaves

March 11, 2016

Sophomore Erin Cordill. Photo by Savannah Riley

Spartan Tennis Gets into the Swing of Things

Guerby Ruuska

The men’s and women’s tennis teams have jumped into action this past weekend with a tennis match against Alma. Tennis is a spring sport for the men and a fall sport for the women, but that doesn’t stop either squad from scheduling a few matches here and there, which is exactly what MU’s game against Alma College was.

“Our first match against Alma College was not the outcome we wanted, but we were honestly happy with the way we played,” said sophomore Spencer Thomas of Yorktown, Ind. “Our scores didn't show the competitive matches that were played among the entire team. With any season opener, you can't expect too much. We're still a little rusty, but we're now better prepared for our season.”

The women’s season doesn’t officially start until fall, which leaves open the possibilities for more talent coming in. As of now the women are relying on number-one singles player Erin Cordill, who joined forces with sophomore Katy Ashpole for number-one doubles.

First-year Sierra Crane of Bedford, Ind. explains what it’s like to be the youngster on the team.
“Being the youngest helps because I can compare myself coming in,” she said. “Since they have been there and done it all before, it helps me improve. It always helps you get better when you play someone better than you. Everyone has a different playing style so I just bring my own playing style into the mix.”

Alma has been known to have a tough tennis program. The last time the Spartans met them face-to-face was back in 2008. In this outing, the Spartans still performed well, even though the score didn’t show it and especially considering the fact that the women came in having had only one practice this season.

With three women from the regular season gone—two graduated and one is studying in England—it will be interesting to see what the squad of eight can pull off.

“The squads are small, but for tennis, it's a good number having around 10 players,” said Head Coach Eric Christansen. We try to become a close-knit group and support each other. They are all fighting for spots in the line-up, but in the end, they all work for what is best for the team. Both teams have been great this year in creating a family-type atmosphere.”

Junior Stratton Smith of New Palestine, Ind., leads the men as the number-one singles and pairs with Thomas for the number-one doubles spot. With 11 men, the Spartans have put together a young group of hard working talent.

“As a team we have higher expectations than usual,” Thomas said. We have some really talented first-years joining us, and our team chemistry is better than ever. Our conference is competitive, but we expect to make the conference tournament for the second year in a row, despite the preseason polls saying we won't. We're all about proving people wrong and having fun along the way.”

Coach Christiansen knows his squads are being looked at as the underdogs and feeds off of it. 
“I think a few teams are going to overlook us, so I'm hoping that is where the surprise comes in,” he said. “But, it is up to us to prepare and put ourselves in a situation to get those big surprises. The guys are hungry and support each other, and that's a good combination.”