Larks tennis focusing on smart play in April

John Ruth – Horizon Sports Editor

Adrienne Derstine knows all about the individual difficulties of tennis.

“Tennis is very much of mental game and people don’t understand until they play the sport,” said Destine. “I’ve had a lot of trouble with the mental aspects. I approach this by strengthening my technique so I can have confidence going into the match.”

Derstine also points out that “focusing on what’s happening in the moment is good for bringing the technique into a high pressure situation.”

Freshman Josiah Borst prepares for Friday’s match. Photo by Eleya Raim

Although it’s losing season so far, that’s the strategy the Hesston College tennis teams are using to get back on top.

The women’s team began their season a good note, dominating in their first match on the road by a score of 8-1 against Central Christian College. It’s been an uphill battle ever since. The team has lost every one of their subsequent matches.

But Derstine thinks they could be a strong team again.

“We have a good team, we have a lot of smart players and have started off a really good season,”she said.

And by smart players, she means on and off the court.

“As a team we get along super well, we have smart players and we all have very good GPA’s,” said Derstine. “It’s a good situation.”

The following matches for the women’s team were disappointing as a reflection on their first match. They lost each one by a score of 9 to 0. But the team doesn’t let the disappointment get to them.

For Derstine, that means focusing on the mental part of the game. She says she pays close attention to her weaknesses and sees every match as a learning opportunity.

“I’m doing well with team chemistry and contributing to the team,” said Derstine. “I’m really good at getting to my opponent and appreciate them for their abilities. Instead of viewing them as ‘I’m going to beat you,’ I view them in a way of seeing what they are good at and challenging myself to learn form them.”

Derstine thinks it’s that kind of strategy that may give the team an edge.

“As the season goes on, I think its looking really good and we definitely get get into a new territory as a team,” she said.

On the men’s side of the team, they are 4 and 3 and fighting to keep a wining record. Sophomore Andry Stutzman is optimistic.

“I think the team is shaping up to perform very well this year,” he said. “Two of our matches were against Colorado Christian and Southwestern and they were very tight, competitive matches that were all within our reach.”

The first match of their season, like the women’s team was started strong, winning by a score of 6 to 3. After that, the men went back forth between wins and losses, including two recent losses Saturday and Tuesday. The team sees what they need to work on to add to their winning season.

“One thing I think we could work on as a team is just making sure we have the grit all the way down the line to pull out some of the closer matches,” said Stuztman. “While I think we are very skilled team this year, it going to be important to maintain good mental discipline in order to pull out the wins we need.

Part of that is staying positive during the ups and downs.

“I think our team this year has great spirit,” said Stutzman. “I think everyone is out there to play some competitive tennis, but even more than that, they’re out there to bond with each other and simply for the love of the game. As a result of our success last year, I think everyone has a mindset that is bent on making it to nationals, and I do think that we are capable of reaching this goal.”

Eight players (four men and four women) will graduate in May. For sophomores like Stutzman, this is the end of the road.

“This is going to be the last year of competitive tennis for me,” said Stutzman. “I’m transferring to EMU (Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va.) next year, and I don’t plan on competing in any tennis programs. However, as Coach has explained to us, I hope to continue playing the game throughout my life,” he said.

The men’s and women’s teams will look to turn things around as they take on Southwest Christian tomorrow at 4 p.m.

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