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ISSUE 117 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/5/2004

Spring swing

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, March 5, 2004

Unbeknownst to the majority of students on the Hill, the St. Olaf mens and womens tennis teams have been testing their mettle against a slew of talented conference and non-conference opponents for nearly a month.

Most people dont even know we are in season, coach Scott Nesbit said. Actually we are about a third of the way through.

Both teams have been playing a match every weekend since Feb. 7 and will continue to do so, with the exception of spring break, until the MIAC tournament at the end of April.

The men have compiled a 2-2 record and earned victories over conference rivals Bethel and Concordia. Most recently, the team traveled to St. Scholastica and dropped a heart breaker of a match 5-4.

The womens team is also 2-2 on the season, with the two wins coming against Concordia and St. Bens. Last weekend, the team was unable to overcome Carletons sweep of the double matches and fell 7-2 to the cross-town Knights.

Despite the pair of .500 records, the teams are playing great tennis heading into the bulk of the conference schedule.

I am very happy with the way things have gone to this point, Nesbit said. We are fortunate in that we can practice in game-like situations every day and travel to compete against such good competition.

The understaffed mens team will certainly benefit from the extensive competition as three of the teams eight players are first years.

This is the smallest mens team I have ever had, Nesbit said. But all the guys love to play tennis and are getting better every time they step on the court; that is all you can ask for.

Dan Cohen 04, Ted Nagel 04 and Tom Nagel 04 leads the way for the Oles as the senior trio is a combined 8-4 in singles play. Ted Nagel competes at number one singles, Tom Nagel battles at number two singles and Cohen fires away at number four singles. The Nagel twins also handle number one doubles duties and are a perennial conference force in that event.

The womens team goes nine deep and also features three first year athletes. Lone senior Jamie Brau leads the team with her 3-1 record in singles competition and vast playing experience. It is undeniable the team will greatly improve as the youngsters gain valuable experience.

I am always amazed at how hard everybody works, Nesbit said. The improvement from match to match, practice to practice is incredible.

The mens team continues its regular season schedule Friday against St. Thomas at the Owatonna Tennis and Fitness Center, while the women will wait until Saturday to head south down I-35 toward Owatonna to take on the Thommies. Matches start at 6:30 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. respectively.

The St. Olaf tennis teams success during the dead of winter has proved it is not necessary to wait to spring to heat up the courts, even if it means you cannot play outside.

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