2013 tennis season preview

By on Feb. 7, 2013 in Men's Tennis

2013 tennis season preview

At a glance
2012 Record: 8-11 overall, 3-3 GPAC (4th)
Head Coach: Amy Harms (6th year)
Record at School: 39-30 overall
Returning Starters:  Nathan Wingfield, Cole Egger, Jon Heckman, Mike McCartney, Joe Vanderveld
Returning Letterwinners:   Nathan Wingfield, Cole Egger, Jon Heckman, Mike McCartney, Joe Vanderveld
Other Key Returners: Joel Kaldahl
Key Losses: Jeremy Jank, Danny Frastaci
Key Newcomers: Jonathan Douglas
2012 GPAC All-Conference: Danny Frastaci (No. 2 singles); Nathan Wingfield (No. 3 singles, No. 1 doubles); Cole Egger (No. 1 doubles)
--Honorable mention – Jeremy Jank (singles, doubles); Cole Egger (singles); Danny Frastaci (doubles)

2012 Record: 7-10 overall, 3-4 GPAC (5th)
Head Coach: Amy Harms (6th year)
Record at School: 44-22 overall
Returning Starters: Katelyn Koll, Lindsea Vaudt, Grace Hollenbeck, Liz Kjellsen, Mikaela Barz
Returning Letterwinners:  Katelyn Koll, Lindsea Vaudt, Grace Hollenbeck, Liz Kjellsen, Mikaela Barz
Key Losses:  None
Key Newcomers: Chelsea Haack
2012 GPAC All-Conference: Katelyn Koll (No. 1 singles, No. 1 doubles), Lindsea Vaudt (No. 1 doubles)
--Honorable mention – Grace Hollenbeck (singles); Mikaela Barz (singles)

After middle of the GPAC finishes for Concordia men’s and women’s tennis last year, the Bulldogs have experienced squads aiming to remain in the mix among the conference’s elites. Head coach Amy Harms enters her sixth year at the helm of both programs and carries a combined record of 83-52.

Harms’ Bulldog women put together a solid 2012 campaign despite a lineup infused with youth. Katelyn Koll, now a junior, jumped up from the No. 6 singles position as a freshman to No. 1 last season and proved almost unbeatable inside the conference. The Wilber, Neb., native went 10-6 overall in singles, including a 6-1 mark against conference opponents.

Behind the leadership and dependability of Koll at the top of the lineup, Concordia has much fewer question marks entering 2013 than it did this time a year ago.

“On the women’s side we were pretty inexperienced (last year). We had some quality freshmen,” Harms said. “We competed but we just didn’t have the experience to really overcome and get that many wins. I think having a season under their belt is big. Katelyn was also playing her first season at No. 1 after playing No. 6. That was kind of a big adjustment for her. We didn’t have a whole lot of experience in our lineup. I think they’ll be much improved this year and know what to expect.”

Koll’s style might be unconventional, but her hard work has allowed her to become one of the GPAC’s top performers. All-GPAC at No. 1 singles and doubles last season, the 6-foot Koll uses her height advantage to cover from line to line while possessing a powerful serve.

“She’s definitely not a traditional No. 1 player,” Harms said. “But yet she just kind of went about her work and came up with just short of an undefeated conference season against some very, very good players. She can just frustrate people. She’s able to play her game and have her style win out.”

Koll’s doubles partner and fellow All-GPAC honoree at No. 1 doubles returns in the form of Lindsea Vaudt. Koll and Vaudt went 5-2 when paired together in conference matches. Vaudt, a senior from Kalispell, Mont., and member of the Bulldog volleyball team, also held down the No. 2 singles spot last season.

Sophomores Grace Hollenbeck (8-8 Nos. 3/4 singles; 8-8 No. 2 doubles) and Liz Kjellsen (4-11 singles) and senior Makaela Barz (9-4 No. 5 singles; 8-8 No. 2 doubles) often made up spots 3 through 5 in last season’s lineup and again will be counted on in 2013. They also get some help with the arrival of freshman Chelsea Haack of Columbus, Neb.

“I think it’s pretty competitive because a lot of those girls are pretty similar,” Harms said. “If they played 10 times, they may split 5-5, 6-4, as far as who wins.

“Lindsea has come a long ways since being a freshman. She’s really developed herself with her strengths. She’s got good height on her too. She was more of a doubles specialist when she started playing and now she’s a pretty accomplished singles player as well.”

The doubles combo of senior Cole Egger and junior Nathan Wingfield headline the list of returnees on the men’s side. The duo went 9-8 while playing at both the Nos. 1 and 2 doubles spots. In singles, Wingfield posted an 8-10 overall mark at No. 3 and Egger racked up a 12-5 record at No. 5. Both earned All-GPAC status last season in leading the Bulldogs to a 3-3 conference record.

“Nathan and Cole – they’re really hard workers,” Harms said. “They’re very athletic. They played No. 1 doubles for a lot of the season last year so they know what they have to do to be successful at that spot. They’re a really good team. They’ve shown some leadership and really have stepped out and worked on their games. They’re always focused and willing to do whatever it takes to really put in the time.”

The fourth-place conference finish last season won’t be satisfying for the Bulldog men this time around. While they have lost key performers in Danny Frastaci and Jeremy Jank, they believe they have the nucleus to take another step forward in 2013.

“I thought we competed really well (last year),” Harms said. “I think so far this fall and winter the guys have really been focused on improving themselves. They have kind of an empty feeling from last year so I think they’re a little bit hungry, which is good. That’s why they’re so motivated for this year.”

Egger and Wingfield will be flanked in the lineup by holdovers like sophomore Jonathan Heckman (6-12 at No. 4 singles) and juniors Michael McCartney (8-9 at No. 6 singles; 5-6 at No. 3 doubles) and Joe Vanderveld (5-6 at No. 3 doubles). While an injury has limited Heckman this offseason, McCartney looks to make a bigger splash this season. Harms says McCartney has improved greatly.

Newcomer Jonathan Douglas has raised eyebrows with his play in doubles. The Fenton, Mo., native figures to be an immediate impact player.

“J.D. is a really hard worker,” Harms said. “Since he visited Concordia, he’s a much different player than he was at that point. He’s continually working on what he can do better. He’s got a really good doubles game as well. We won’t have a choice but to try to put him in and he will impact us there as well as possibly in the singles lineup.”

Harms and new assistant James Ingrahm, who hails from Barbados, will look to mesh both teams into GPAC contenders. Ingrahm, formerly an accomplished tennis player at Abraham Baldwin Argicultural College and Ouachita Baptist University, has made it a goal to get Bulldog tennis to the NAIA National Championships.

“He has a really good tennis background and a lot of experience working with players,” Harms said of Ingrahm. “What he has really helped us out with is working with the players in small groups or individually. He’s been with them on the court doing that. That’s been a huge help having him be able to run practices with his background.”

The season gets started on Friday for the women, who open with Bethany College (Kan.) in a match that will be played in Lincoln, Neb. The men welcome Bethany College to Seward on Saturday for their season opener. That match gets underway at 9 a.m. in the Fieldhouse.