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ISSUE 115 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 3/22/2002

‘Princess Bride’ plays out

By Various Contributors
Sports Editor

Friday, March 22, 2002

Experience. Over the course of their four years as members of the St. Olaf Men's Tennis team, seniors Brandon Hall, Tim Smith, and Karl Wilbur have compiled a plethora of experiences that have helped them grow as leaders on and off the court. For Hall, Smith, and Wilbur, their St. Olaf Tennis careers have provided them with a rollercoaster of emotions. The three seniors have relied heavily on the experiences and lessons learned during their first three years, towards dictating this years underclassmen dominated team. They faced their most trying moment only five games into their freshman season. An off-the-court infraction by variou team members against St. Olaf policies prompted the cancellation of the remaining portion of the season. Despite this major setback, the trio collectively restored their dedication towards one another. The three seniors are recognized by their coach and fellow teammates for their individual idiosyncrasies and the fun-loving demeanor they bring to the team. Coach Scott Nesbit, often known for his own quirky antics, likens the triad to the characters in one of their favorite movies, the 1987 hit film, "The Princess Bride." Nesbit describes Smith as being "the voice of reason" on and off the court. "Tim is the Vizzini character," says Nesbit. "It is inconceivable that he can be outsmarted." Teammate Hall looks at Smith more as being "the politician" of the team. Says Hall, "He's gonna give it to you straight up and always thinks rationally about situations." Smith merely sees these tasks as fitting towards his role on the team. "I have a role to be focused and to practice hard and act as an encourager," stated Smith. Despite being plagued by injuries and illnesses throughout the past few seasons, Smith has been an integral key to the Oles on-court successes. Smith and Wilbur team up as the Oles' number two doubles pair. Their partnership has grown tremendously since the earlier days. Through combining Smith's strategic court planning and Wilbur's aggressiveness, the duo imposes havoc on opposing teams. Just ask the St. John's team that was leading 4-7, and had triple match point, before allowing the Ole pair to strike back and win 9-7. "Karl and I are sort of the kings of comebacks," exclaimed Smith, referring to their ability of pulling out come-from-behind victories. According to Hall, Smith and Wilbur complement and balance one another on the court. "While sometimes he may be a little too serious [referring to Smith], he's a nice balance to Karl, who's usually clownin'." Wilbur plays with a zest that cannot be matched. Because of his competitiveness on and off the court, Nesbit compares him to Andre the Giant character of Fezzik. "He is the aggressive, get up to the net, put the pressure on the opponent-type player," exclaims Nesbit. "Karl is the one who will make the difficult climb up the cliffs of insanity, or go against the sixty men who are covering the castle gate," says Nesbit, referring to the movie. Wilbur has been a dominating presence on and off the court for the Oles. Wilbur, the captain of both the soccer and tennis teams this year, channels his complete energy into everything he does. Last year, he was awarded team MVP for placing second at conference in both the number two singles and number one doubles positions. Along with Wilbur, Hall unloads a certain savyness everytime he steps on the court. In keeping with the "Princess Bride" theme, Nesbit describes the Iowa native as the Inigo Montoya of Ole Tennis. "Brandon is the flashy swordsman who loves a good, competitive tennis match, filled with hard fought rallies." Hall finished last season as the team's number four singles player, but after increasing his strength through a rigorous off-season lifting program and adopting a more patient attitude on the court, has moved himself into the number two position. According to his doubles partner, junior Matt Sobieski, "Brandon always shows up for matches focused and ready to play. His consistency has helped keep us close in a lot of matches," claims Sobieski. According to Nesbit, "He [Brandon] appreciates the talent of the opponent and is gracious in defeat." Although Hall is respectful in defeat, losing is not usually part of his vocabulary. Last year, Hall took second in conference in both the number four singles and number three doubles positions and received All-Conference accolades. Whether the threesome is helping to support one another on the court, locking horns in a debate on the current status of their high school tennis programs, or seeing who can pack the lightest back pack for their upcoming South Carolina trip, competition rules favorably in Oleland. Nesbit sums up the impact the senior have had on the program by saying, "These three guys have made coaching very fun. They played a big part in the success of last year's second place MIAC team and continue to play a big role in this year's team. I have had a lot of fun working with them and getting to know them-the Vizinni, the Fezzik, and the Inigo Montoya of St. Olaf Tennis."

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