Norse tennis storms through competition into conference tournament

Following the days of John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Martina Navratilova in the 1970s and ’80s, the popularity of tennis was on a decline through the ’90s.

Despite featuring a number of top American men, including one who was perhaps the sport’s greatest champion ‘- Pete Sampras, and possibly the greatest women’s champion ever in Steffi Graf, interest dwindled.

Regardless of charismatic stars like Monica Seles, Andre Agassi or Stefan Edberg, the sport just didn’t appeal to the masses like it once did.

And yet now it is again, and it’s because of an international and ethnic flavor as well as other aspects.

Maybe the most poignant fact as to why the sport has resurged in popularity is the appeal to the beginners, mostly at young ages.’ I’m not going to get into the technical reasons for this, though, as they are remarkably boring.’ However, if by some chance you would actually like to read about that, just Google ‘lower compression tennis balls,’ and have a blast; it’s about as gripping as tire pressure.

The direct effect of using these balls to get beginners more acclimated and competitive with the game early you can be witnessed at NKU’s campus tennis courts or the Beechmont Racquet Club, the two homes for the Norse men and women’s tennis teams.
It’s more riveting than the International Tennis Federations mission manual, I promise. In any instance, though, such training may be responsible for the recent successes of the Norse tennis teams through the current season.

With men’s number-one Ignacio Ortiz winning in dramatic fashion to seal a 5-4 win and the ladies complete and utter domination of Southern Indiana, both Norse teams secured spots in the GLVC Tournament starting April 24 in St. Louis.’ The Norse currently find themselves behind internationally flavored Drury and Rockhurst on the men’s side, and following Drury as well on the women’s side.

The men have been led by senior Fritz Dlabik, and the aforementioned Columbian Ortiz who after dropping the first set to Diego Gimenez in a tie-breaker, rallied and got a huge break (point) in the third set on his way to winning the clinching match.’ Cov Cath product Jason Kramer cruised to a straight-set singles victory as well as posting the Norse’s only doubles point with Felipe Rossetti, putting the Norse men in the conference tournament.

The girls just flat-out smoked the Screaming Eagles.’ Over-matched and out-hustled, the nationally ranked Norse went nearly perfect.’ Stephanie Isaacs continued her fantastic junior season moving to 14-6 and sophomore Kristen Sunday got back to .500 on a year where she has faced some seriously stiff competitors.

One of the big stories for the girls was GLVC player-of-the-week Michelle Schirmann.’
The junior Mercy product from Cincinnati had about as good a start to April as you could ask.’ She had a pair of wins over Indianapolis in singles and doubles play, and then gave NKU its only point against Division I Xavier.

The Norse have Brescia Friday and Bellarmine Saturday before the conferencetournament begins next weekend.’ More than just a warm-up for the GLVC, as they’ll have their hands full with a balanced conference led by an incredibly strong Drury team at the top.