TC tennis teams bring balance

The Tabor men?s tennis team features a mix of new and returning talent, including: front row (from left), Darian Flores, Tyler Dort, Roberto Flores, Jeffrey Pritchard; back row, Jared Friesen, Kelyn Vix, head coach John Ruder, Luis Navarrete, Harrison Faber.The Tabor College men?s and women?s tennis teams bring a balance of new and returning talent to the court this season under the direction of 2nd-year head coach John Ruder.

Men?s team

The Bluejay men return three athletes from last year?s team, which ended 4-3 in KCAC play, 6-10 overall.

Senior Kelyn Vix will lead the Bluejays at No. 1 singles.

?Kelyn has been working very hard and he will compete well at the No. 1 position this year,? Ruder said. ?He is a co-captain and an exceptional leader who is involved in student senate as well as choir.?

Senior Tyler Dort will fill the No. 2 spot.

?Tyler is co-captain with Kelyn, and the two of them supply exceptional leadership both on and off the court,? Ruder said. ?Tyler is a very consistent player with the ability to outlast most of his opponents. He has worked hard to add more offense to his game, and it will pay off in the KCAC.?

Vix and Dort also will play the No. 1 doubles.

?They were one of the best No. 2 doubles teams in the KCAC last year and are playing very well at the No. 1 position this year,? Ruder said.

Tabor?s third returner is junior Jared Friesen, who filled the No. 7 position last season and saw mostly doubles action.

?This year, (Jared) is our No. 6 and competes very well in this position,? Ruder said.

Four freshmen round out the Tabor?s lineup.

The Tabor women?s tennis team includes both new and experienced athletes, including: front row (from left), Kiana Fujioka, Becky Faber, Krista Schmidt; back row, head coach John Ruder, Karly Lindroth-Yates, Celeste Worthy, Anna Friesen, student assistant Lateefa Brown. Not pictured: Yvonne Nachtigal.Hillsboro?s Harry Faber will fill the No. 3 singles position, while Luis Navarrete of Perryton, Texas, will be Tabor?s No. 4.

Ruder said both are showing constant improvement. The duo are competing in No. 2 doubles this season.

Darian Flores of El Centro, Calif., will compete in No. 5 singles. Hillsboro?s Jeff Pritchard completes the lineup at No. 7 singles.

Friesen, Flores and Pritchard rotate in the No. 3 doubles position.

One of the Bluejays? strengths this season will be in doubles.

?Our No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams will compete well in the KCAC,? Ruder said. ?Our No. 3 doubles is improving, and when we know who the set team will be, they will get stronger.?

Tabor also shows potential to compete well in singles.

?Kelyn and Tyler are strong players and will compete well at the 1 and 2 spot,? Ruder said. ?Jared Friesen will compete well at the 6 position. The key will be the development of the three freshmen playing 3, 4, and 5.

?With four freshman playing key roles, we lack experience,? Ruder said. ?However, all four freshmen are hard workers and are improving constantly.?

Top teams to watch in KCAC play include Bethany and McPherson, Ruder said, adding that Friends and Ottawa will be better this year after adding a good recruiting class.

Ruder anticipates Tabor will finish among the top four in the conference.

The Tabor men are currently 1-3 on the season.

Women?s team

The Bluejay women return four athletes from last year?s team that had a 3-4 KCAC record, 5-9 overall.

Junior Becky Faber, a first-team all-KCAC selection last year, returns in the No. 1 singles position, having earned a 6-1 KCAC record last season.

?(Becky) is 2-1 so far this year and playing very well,? Ruder said. ?As a co-captain, she is showing solid team leadership.?

Senior Karly Lindroth-Yates returns and is filling the No. 3 singles position.

?Karly is playing solid tennis and showing constant improvement,? Ruder said. ?She will do well in the KCAC. ?

Faber and Lindroth-Yates will play No. 1 doubles this year.

Junior Anna Friesen returns at No. 2 singles.

?Anna is a hard worker and is splitting practice time with women?s soccer, so she is extremely busy this spring,? Ruder said.

Junior Krista Schmidt, who played No. 5 last season, is No. 4 this year.

?Krista is a hard worker and very competitive,? Ruder said. ?She is a very consistent player who is working hard to add more offense to her game.?

Three newcomers round out the women?s team.

Freshman Kiana Fujioka of Reedley, Calif., fills the No. 5 position. Celeste Worthy, a freshman from Hillsboro, Ore., is at No. 6.

Fujioka and Worthy currently rotate with Schmidt to fill the No. 3 doubles.

Tabor?s third newcomer, senior Yvonne Nachtigal, joins the tennis team after participating in Tabor soccer and track for three seasons.

Aiding the women?s team this year as student assistant coach is transfer Lateefa Brown.

?Lateefa has used up her competitive eligibility, but her encouragement as well as competing against them in practice with a higher level of play is helping our women to raise their games,? Ruder said.

He anticipates competitive play this season in both singles and doubles.

?With Becky, we are strong at the No. 1 singles position,? he said. ?At No. 2 (Anna) and No. 3 (Karly), we will be very competitive. Krista will pick up wins for us at No. 4 singles.

?In doubles, our No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams will be strong and will compete very well in the KCAC. Our freshmen are developing well and will make a contribution at No. 5 and No. 6 singles as well as with Krista at No. 3 doubles.?

In order to be successful, Tabor?s newcomers will need to gain experience.

The top KCAC teams to watch are Bethel and McPherson, Ruder said, but he expects Tabor to be in contention among the top four along with Bethany, Friends and Ottawa.

?It will all come down to how we play in those key matches,? he said. ?I expect our women to rise to the occasion and have a strong conference season.?

The Tabor women are currently 2-2 on the season.

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