The Kingsmen tennis team of California Lutheran University will advance to the SCIAC championships starting May 2.
Although the team’s participation in this weekend’s Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament ended in the quarterfinals, the team is eager to put to use its experiences this past season to regain dominance in the upcoming SCIAC championship games.
Michael Gennette, head coach for the Kingsmen and a CLU alumnus, said his motto throughout the regular season is something he calls CQI: “constant quality improvement.”
“Since this was a rebuilding year…instead of being solely focused on winning and losing, we focused on the process of just getting better. It helped us to handle some of the losses in the beginning of the season and was also the key to our success in the second half of the season,” Gennette said.
The Kingsmen wrapped up regular season play on April 18 with a victory against Cal Tech, winning a clean sweep, 9-0.
Senior Alex Nichols agrees with Gennette that an increased emphasis on the mental and physical principles of the game helped the team return from early losses to finish out regular season play with momentum.
“As a whole, the team practiced what coach Gennette would consider ‘deep focus,’ which he would define as understanding the purpose behind each and every action rather than just going through the motions subconsciously. He encouraged us to practice on and off the court,” Nichols said.
Nichols’ teammate junior Moises Cardenas, who is ranked second in the western region in singles, believes that losing one third of last year’s team presented the challenge of reconstructing a team and its past achievements from the ground up.
“I knew going into this season that it was going to be a rebuilding year, but I didn’t want that to affect my attitude,” Cardenas said. “Even though I didn’t have as strong of an Ojai showing as I would have wanted, I still have SCIAC and nationals to right the wrong.”
Day one of the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament proved successful for the Kingsmen in which the team outmatched all three of its doubles match competitors. It also won four of its six singles matches.
The team’s energy from day one did not carry over to day two and the Kingsmen’s play ended in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Despite the disappointment, freshman Fergus Scott believes that in addition to intense mental focus, there was an important element of enjoyment that helped to alleviate some of the pressures of practice and games and those wins in the second half of the season were a natural consequence.
“We have a pretty tough schedule with a myriad of ranked teams and at the start of the season, it was a little bit daunting therefore, the focus was to just try and enjoy ourselves and get some quality experience out of it all. Eventually, the wins started to come and we’ve now established ourselves as a legitimate top 20 team,” Scott said.
Gennette is confident that the progress and resilience the Kingsmen tennis team has showed throughout this season will carry over into the SCIAC championships.
“The team now has a long reputation of success. We are nationally ranked every year and often in the top five or 10 in the nation. But, I would like us to take the next step and actually win the national championship soon,” Gennette said.
Game one of the SCIAC championship tournament begins at 12 p.m. on May 2 and will continue through May 3.
Published April 30, 2013