The women’s and men’s tennis fall exhibition seasons have come to a close. The teams will rest up to charge the net again in the spring season.
The women ended their fall season 0-3 and the men wrapped up at 1-1.
“The fall is more of an exhibition season and a chance for us to really gel and figure out lineups,” said William Jewell College head women’s and men’s tennis coach Paul Worstell.
The fall season included both point winning volleys and unfortunate passing shots as the new assistant coach got his start, but injuries plagued players.
“At the first tournament of the season I got hit in the head/neck with a tennis ball being hit at me at point blank range,” said WJC senior women’s tennis player Lauren Huddlestun. “It was the funniest memory because not many people can say they got a concussion while playing tennis and it was the worst because I was out for about three weeks.”
Despite injuries, the season included high-fives which were issued as Adam Clark stepped on to the WJC courts as the new assistant coach.
“Adam has been an outstanding addition to our program,” said Worstell. “He is such a great sounding board for me and with him being so freshly removed from college tennis I rely on him for a lot of advice because he knows what they all go through as he just graduated last year.”
As Worstell contends, Clark’s experience and ability to relate to WJC players enables him to offer timely tennis tips.
“He [Coach Clark] taught me that I can still have personal goals as a senior and that even though I am older I can still find ways to make myself better,” said Huddlestun.
The new addition to the team also pushes players to new limits.
“Coach Clarke has done an awesome job keeping me composed on court and has challenged me to do new things on court that I typically wouldn’t try on my own,” said WJC junior men’s tennis player Brian Wohlers. “Because tennis is more mental than it is physical, it’s important to add on to your collection of methods and tactics. He really pushes you past your limit, encouraging us players to be more versatile on court.”
The fall season allows for players to learn about their style of play and grow as players.
“I used to say that I liked doubles better but my senior year I would say my answer has changed,” said Huddlestun. “Singles is what I like best because I have a very specific style of play so I can give it my all on the court during singles. In singles it is easier for me to stick to my game plan and work my absolute hardest to get a win for myself.”
In the off time between seasons student athletes look to catch up on school work, but they are always determined to better their game.
“Because tennis is so heavy in the early fall and most of the spring season, I always make sure to pay more attention than ever to my academics,” said Wohlers. “Before it gets too cold, I definitely will make a point of hitting with my teammates. But especially during the later months, I’ll be sure to keep up with the weight training and pay closer attention to what I’m eating both in and outside of the caf.”
With better knowledge of each player’s strengths, the teams look to solidify leaders and teamwork, which will up their level of play in the spring season.
“Bringing the team together will be a goal for the spring and can be accomplished easily because we will be spending a lot of time together at practice and traveling almost every weekend,” said Huddlestun.
The focus on team spirit also drives the men’s team.
“Every spring, I really look forward to the road trips,” said Wohlers. “Tennis is typically a very personal and lonely sport. Over the past few years, however, I’ve really grown accustomed to the camaraderie that sits behind college tennis. I feel like our performance on court really relies on the connections we have from one another. It can be recognized just from subtle cheering off court. Road trips really bring the team together.”
The spring is the main season according to National Collegiate Athletic Association. This means the amount of practices and matches consumes the majority of players’ time. Spring season starts up with practice Jan. 10 and the first official match is Feb. 4.
“I am looking forward to spring break because we are going to California,” said Huddlestun. “Indian Wells will be taking place during the time of our spring break, which is a professional tournament that isn’t as big as the grand slams, but all of the top players will be there.”
Look for the women and men’s tennis teams to be wielding their secret weapons as they take on opponents in the spring season.
“My secret weapon is my forehand,” said Wohlers. “It’s an ongoing joke between the team that such a powerful shot can come from someone that really isn’t the biggest guy around. It’s quite humorous to watch, really.”
The end of the fall season marks a time of rest and focus on improvement as the tennis teams awaits increased competition and team camaraderie in the spring.
Photo by Amy Stroth.