Tennis expectations fly high

Northern Kentucky University’s tennis teams have high expectations for the 2011 season as they look to make runs to the NCAA tournament.

The men’s and women’s teams have the privilege of hosting the Great Lakes Conference Championship this spring. Because NKU is the host, not allowing the conference championship to leave this campus will be a goal for both teams this season. The biggest advantage to playing at home will be a strong cheering section, according to senior Kristen Sunday.

“We have family and friends that can come watch,” Sunday said. “We traveled to Missouri last season, and that’s quite a hike. Not many of our fans could make it, so being here on campus will be a nice perk.”

Both men and women will kick of their spring campaign as they travel to Richmond, Ky. to take on the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels, a Division I opponent and in-state rival.

“We’re preparing our match like any other match,” head coach Geoff Crawford said. “Regardless of who our opponent is, we’re just trying to prepare and do everything we can individually and collectively to be ready for this match.”

The men’s team will look to rebound from a disappointing 2010 campaign. The men finished the year 6-8 overall, and saw their season end early with a disappointing loss to Rockhurst in the GLVC Tournament. The Norse entered the tournament needing a strong performance to reach the NCAA Tournament, but a quick exit from the conference tournament kept the team out.

The Norse will be looking to replace the leadership of Lance Koetter. He graduated after earning a spot on the All-GLVC team last season. He ended the year with an 8-3 singles record overall, and a 4-1 record within the GLVC.

Since the Norse are entering the year without seniors, underclassman will be expected take charge of the team.

Leading the way will be sophomore Guillaume Berman, named to the All-GLVC team last season and also GLVC Freshman of the Year. He finished the year with an 11-2 overall record, in which all 11 wins came in a row. Berman finished 4-1 in conference, and teamed with Koetter in doubles. The pair finished with a 7-5 record.

The women’s tennis team is looking to build off a successful 2010 season. The Norse were able to make it to the finals of the GLVC before falling to Drury University in the finals.

The Norse were still able to ride the success of the conference tournament and claim a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but ran into the same Drury Panthers and fell 8-3. NKU finished the year with an 11-5 record overall, and a 6-3 record in the GLVC.

“We have gotten better each year I have been here,” Sunday said. “We are looking further ahead this season instead of just individual matches. The furthest we have been since I have been here is out of the first round, and we want to improve of that.”

Sunday, who finished last season playing in the number- one spot for the Norse, will be a key member of the team. She finished last season with a 7-9 overall mark. Also returning to the is junior Jenny Hand, who played in the four-spot for the Norse last season.

NKU will be without Whitney Thomas, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. Thomas played the number-three singles spot for the Norse last season, pairing with Sunday to form the number one doubles team for NKU.

Story by Nick Jones