Sports often take tremendous amounts of sacrifice, as well as huge efforts, both physically and mentally.
For the Lewis and Clark tennis teams, the effort is about to finally pay off. Both the men’s and women’s squads have a chance at titles.
The men defeated Kaskaskia 9-0 (six singles matches; three doubles) to move past the NJCAA Division I Region 24 Championship to the national stage on May 11 in Plano, Texas.
This great feat is in spite of the fact that during the regular season, the men compiled a 3-8 record and placed fourth of four teams in the Blazer Classic Tournament, according to Lewis and Clark’s website.
“It’s a wonderful experience to be a part of the Lewis and Clark tennis team. I have formed a lot of strong relationships along the way and learned a lot more about my favorite sport. I am proud to be a part of the this team moving forward as we prepare for nationals in the coming weeks,” Men’s team member and General Education major Matthew Schilling, Jr. said.
The Lady Trailblazers are 8-5 (including the Region 24 tournament) as of April 26, and will play in the national tournament on May 3 in Tyler, Texas.
The women are bolstered by two stars at the top of their lineup, Luisa Gonzalez and Rachel Allard.
“The truth is they are as good as they are because the quality of players they face every day in practice. We ended up not being able to play half our original schedule due to weather, so we spent the bulk of the season playing one another. Steel sharpens steel,” said Lady Trailblazers tennis coach Jim Hunstein.
This year’s team brings to the tournament an experience edge that they did not previously have. According to Hunstein, more than half are sophomores who went to nationals last season, and 80 percent of the schedule this year was against four-year schools.
While a title would be a challenge, Hunstein remains confident.
“The way they score at nationals, we were only a couple wins from breaking into the top 20, which is where we should be this year if the women play the way I know they can,” Hunstein said.