Tennis team ready to win in division II

by Lacy Allen
staff writer

Last year both the men’s and women’s teams saw success as part of the NAIA. The men’s season went 21-3 with the women going 18-4. This year, embarking in the NCAA division II, Head Coach Mark Bohren has high hopes for the transition.

“The Pac West [Conference] is extremely difficult,” Bohren said. “The girls are having to go up against a team that is number two in the country.”

To prepare for such high-caliber competition, not only do the athletes need to be in top shape, but the courts they play on do as well. The courts were under construction this past training season, forcing them to practice at Citrus College. Bohren expressed that there were no negative effects to their training; they are just as prepared as ever.

“Tennis courts are tennis courts,” women’s team captain, senior Emily Harris said. “Although the Citrus courts play a little faster than our courts at APU, we were still able to get the practice we needed at Citrus. We are lucky to have a facility like Citrus so close to us in cases like this, but it does make me appreciate being at our own courts again and to have them patched up in time for the season.”

During the off season, the players spent most of their time conditioning in order to keep up with their new and escalated competition.

“We have prepared for this season through a lot of hard work, not only in practice when we play tennis, but through on and off court conditioning. Just like any team, we have put in a lot of hours working on our games and making sure we are fit to enter a tough season,” Harris said.

With high competition from teams such as Hawaii Pacific, Fresno Pacific and Point Loma, the Cougars have their work cut out for them.

Men’s team captain, senior Jochem Hoefnagels, is pumped about their first match against UC San Deigo on February 2nd.

“Apparently, at their home they have a lot of fans. It’s what they are known for, so it should be an intense start to our season,” Hoefnagels said.

Although the season will be intense, Hoefnagels is confident that the team is physically prepared. Hoefnagels individually is prepared as well. He won the ITA Regional Championship and took fifth place at the ITA Small College Singles Championships in Mobile, Ala. this past fall.

“It was good to play against the top,” Hoefnagels said.

In the fall, the tennis athletes play individuals both to help them on their individual games and work on their skills for the team season in spring. Harris, who went 19-1 in singles last year, knows a thing or two about winning.

“Of course, whenever I walk onto the court, I want to win. However, playing for a team amplifies that but also adds new elements. I not only want to win for myself, but for my team and my school,” Harris said.

Harris is not the only one who feels this way. Hoefnagels also thinks it is more rewarding to win and share the victory with his teammates.

Home court advantage is no joke to both of these tennis teams. The men won 13 home matches out of the 14 scheduled here in Azusa. The women won 10 out of 12 total home matches.

“It is always nice when you don’t have to travel,” Bohren said. “Obviously
when you play in front of your friends and family you want to do well.”

With an almost-perfect record at home last season, it is clear the teams love showing off for their school.

Both teams serve-up their seasons in San Diego on February 2 against UC San Diego and Point Loma. The first home match for both teams will be February 11 when they take on Concordia.

“We are really excited to get started next week,” Hoefnagels said.