Tennis teams look to improve in 2007

A new season, a new court, a new attitude: Northern Kentucky University’s Tennis Team is out to prove why it is the best in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Last year, the men were young and inexperienced, but this year it’s a different story for the nine members.

The women have brought in some new players and have some returnees, making the six of them a powerful combination. With a new home court that was built for the teams this year, the Norse will have its pride and a home to defend.

The players are really excited about the new facility.

“I think they’re very nice. I like the architecture that’s been put into it too. It’s a good design,” sophomore Fritz Dlabik said.

Dlabik, one of the strongest players on the team, is expecting great things from himself and the team this season. Last year, Dlabik finished above .500, and now he is looking to progress this year and improve on his record.

“I did alright as a freshman. It was obviously pretty tough because most of the people I played were upper classmen or have been playing for quite a while, but I felt like I held my own.”

One of the team goals Dlabik mentioned is to advance to the NCAA tournament.

“Last year, we ended up second in the conference before we went to the conference tournament, and hopefully we can get that or better again this year and win it and go to the NCAA. That’s the plan.”

The men’s team finished 9-9 overall and 3-1 in the GLVC in 2006. The women finished 7-12 overall and 3-2 in the GLVC.

The players have been working year-round to get ready for the 2007 season. During winter, the team is practicing at Beechmont Racquet Club.

Freshman Michelle Schirmann is looking forward to the season and she will certainly make an impression on the Norse tennis team this year. Schirmann is a graduate of Mother of Mercy High School in Cincinnati. She said that she enjoys the positive environment and encouragement from her teammates, but she does have one particular goal she wants to achieve.

“I want to get more match tough, mentally because I get really nervous,” she said. “I want to be able to overcome that.”

Dlabik and Schirmann both agree the schedule NKU has this year will be tough, playing Western Kentucky University, Xavier University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

“Our first two matches will be a challenge, but as far as conference goes, we should be pretty solid. We beat everybody last year except for Indianapolis and we were one match away from beating them,” Dlabik said.

As for the women, Michelle Schirmann said the season will be a little tough.

“I think we’ll be pretty successful, it’s going to be somewhat of a challenge though because we have a hard schedule. We just got to get everything together.”

Head coach Geoff Crawford has been pushing the team and being supportive. Dlabik and Schirmann both agree that he is very down to earth and personable.

“Geoff is probably the main reason why I came to NKU,” Dlabik said. “He always looks at it from the players’ perspective; he doesn’t look at it all the time from the coaches. He sees if you’re having difficulties and he adjusts to that.”

With the men’s first match Feb. 1, they’ll have the chance to show what they’re made of.

The women and the men will play 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at Western Hills tennis courts against Western Kentucky University.