ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY TOM STOPPEL
Tabor College tennis coach Lonnie Isaac welcomed 10 men to his squad this spring, but few of them had college-level tennis experience.
“This is a rebuilding year for us at Tabor College,” said Isaac, who is in his fourth year as coach.” I think this spring has the guys understanding the significant opportunity for match time this year presents.
“The opportunity to get better as players and to improve is right in front of them.”
Although the team lacks experience, Isaac said his athletes have qualities within them that should make for an interesting season.
“The strength of this team is their competitiveness and positive attitudes,” he said. “One of the big pluses that will come out of this season is that we’re going to give some players some quality matches-and a lot of matches-they might not have gotten if we had a stronger team.
“That will prepare us for next year.”
Playing at No. 1 singles is junior Andrew Braun, a Hillsboro native.
The rest of the singles lineup includes: Chris Adrian, a freshman playing No. 2; Hillsboro junior Jesse Janzen at No. 3; Nick Glanzer, a freshman at No. 4; and junior Ian Thomson at No. 5.
Isaac said others on the roster are junior Matt Nelson, junior Caleb Dirks, junior Jared Reese, Travis Buckley and Brett Womack.
“After our championship team of two years ago, this is our second year of rebuilding,” Isaac said. “We lost three guys off that team to graduation and five others left, so we basically lost eight of our top 10 players from that really good nucleus.
“But I do feel we’re in a better position for the future this year than we were last year.”
The opportunity for this year’s team to play quality competition is paramount to the team’s success in future years, Isaac said.
“Andrew and Chris will be terrific players for us down the road, and by them playing at the top of our lineup, it will do nothing but improve us next year-but we’ll struggle with wins and losses this season,” Isaac said.
“What drives us this year is we know we’ll be stronger next year and the guys see the opportunity this year presents.”
Isaac also coaches the women’s tennis program, which usually competes in fall but is playing matches this spring as a prelude to a full-time switch down the road.
Switching the women to a spring schedule has been approved by everyone but the presidents of the KCAC, according to Isaac.
“We have eight players out this spring and the top of our lineup is as good as it’s been in the four years I’ve been here.”
Meanwhile, the Tabor men will have to battle for victories, but Isaac said they’ll learn lessons that will carry over into next season and into their lives.
“It can be a real character builder to go through a season like this,” he said. “Obviously, some of the other programs at Tabor have gone through similar rebuilding seasons recently and come out stronger for it.
“I truly believe this is our last season of rebuilding and I feel we’ll be in a position to contend for the KCAC title again next year.”