After defeating Emporia State University 6-0 during the first round of the 2012 MIAA conference tournament, the mens tennis team didn’t win another match last weekend in Kansas City. The ’Dogs fell to Northwest Missouri State University in the conference semi-finals the next day and lost to Washburn University in the consolation finals as well.
Having beat Emporia 7-2 previously, the team knew if they executed, they could beat Emporia. The Bulldogs won all three doubles matches and freshman Jake Ohlhausen, and sophomores Mike Merchant and Kirk Schlueter also won their two, five, and six singles matchups, respectively, to give Truman State the victory.
The next round versus Northwest proved to be much more one-sided as they fell 5-0. Going into the matchup, the team knew they would have a tough time defeating the Bearcats because they had lost to them 9-0 on April 1. During the conciliation finals, the Bulldogs were unable to outlast the Washburn Ichabods even after winning the two and three doubles matches 8-4.
The final score showed that Truman lost 5-0 and 5-2, respectively. Head coach Pete Kendall said this is not a testament to how well the team actually played.
“I thought both teams played better than they had all year,” Kendall said. “The scores don’t indicate it, but those losses probably would have been 5-4 had they been able to finish [their shots]. I was also especially impressed with the team in comparison to how we had been playing those teams before. We didn’t win a match [against Washburn last time we played them] but we came out and won two doubles.”
Although the team did not meet all of its expectations this past season, Kendall said he still is impressed with the team’s performance during matches, practice and off the court.
“I was very pleased with the work ethic, not just in practice but during conditioning,” Kendall said. “I would get to practice and many players would be already out there hitting and hitting afterwards, and you can’t ask for more. They were a great group to work with and they put everything into it.”
The team will be losing senior Eric McCollough, its number one singles player, and head coach of 20 years, Kendall, but Ohlhausen said they have a lot to look forward to in forthcoming years, having a current roster of five sophomores and two freshmen.
“We all got better this year, so I expect everyone to get better next year,” Ohlhausen said. “Eric [McCollough] was great at number one and [senior] Mark [Sturley] was a great doubles player. I have big shoes to fill and we’ll have to step up one way or another, and I think we’re capable of doing that.”