GV Tennis makes plans to bring home a GLIAC Conference title


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

James Herrick, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University tennis teams are finally back to campus, ready to begin preparations for their 2021 season. Last spring, both the men’s and women’s teams had successful seasons; however, both ended with a heartbreaking loss in the GLIAC conference finals. GVSU tennis is looking at the opportunity to play in a fall season for the first time since 2019 with a roster fully loaded with returning players to bring home the trophy.

The tennis courts this year will be filled with familiar faces, including head coach Samantha Schall, who’s returning for her third season at GVSU. As for the players, almost the entire men’s and women’s teams will be coming back.

“We didn’t have a lot of turnover,” Schall said. “In fact, I’ve only recruited one player for each team at this point. We have three seniors on the women’s team that are coming back for their fourth year here and they have been impact players every year, so I’m really excited to see what they achieve in their senior season. And then on the men’s side, we brought back almost every player and we just had a really good core group of guys.”

Since last season ended just short of the conference title for the tennis teams, they’re shifting their goals towards a season that will focus less on results and more on opportunities.

“You know, I hope the players do well and progress far in the tournament,” Schall said. “But in terms of specific expectations, I think we are all just looking forward to having our fall season, a more normal experience, and appreciating that part of it rather than focusing on the results.”

This opportunity to play a fall season will not come without its challenges. Tennis season starts on Sept. 9-11 when the teams attend their opening tournament at Davenport University. Unfortunately, the program can’t start practices until Sept. 2, which leaves the teams little time to prepare. However, an offseason filled with hard work will ease the load of getting in match form. Senior Jack Dausman laid out how the team is looking heading into their short practice window.

“Pretty much all our guys have been training really hard over the summer, so it’s not like we are going from zero to full blast,” said Dausman. “A lot of our guys the last couple months have been going hard. We will be coming into practice in good form.”

Dausman also noted that practices will be intense during that window.

“Just being in the atmosphere, and being surrounded by really talented players, it helps you raise your level much quicker than other practices in the summer.” Dausman. So I would say just being around that atmosphere of highly talented players, who have great work ethic, that should be all we need to be in perfect form by the ninth.”

Since tennis season continues on into the spring, the teams have to focus a lot more on looking ahead and doing their best for the rest of their teammates.

“It’s not like you are just playing for yourself, you are playing for your teammates and you are playing for your boys next to you,” said Dausman. “So it is much more serious during (spring) just because it matters much more.”

The spring season starts team match-play where GVSU is looking to avenge a pair of losses in the GLIAC Conference finals. Dausman said these losses left a “sour taste” and caused an “attitude of revenge.” The different levels of importance between the spring and fall seasons also mean a difference in expectations.

“When it comes to the spring, I think we certainly have some goals and some expectations and the players are very motivated after last season and after falling in the conference championship,” Schall said. “That is probably the number one thing that we have our sights set on this year, is winning conference.”

GVSU tennis has two main goals: play tennis and win the GLIAC Tournament. With a full fall season and two highly skilled teams, there will be an opportunity for these goals to become a reality for this 2021-2022 year.