A final sendoff to senior and captain Rise Lanne

Derik Wuchte

The historic season for men’s tennis came to an end with a loss to No. 2 seed South Alabama on Friday, Apr. 22. Although the loss came in close at 4-2, the defeat marked the end of the Eagles for the 2015-2016 season.

With that final closing comes the last regards for senior Ristomatti Lanne’s college career. He will be at GS for another semester, working with the team, until he finishes his coursework, but this was his last chance to win a conference championship as a player.

In a last talk with the senior, there were opportunities to discuss with him the past, the future and for him to reflect on his career. The men’s tennis program has been able to do something special this year, and his leadership has helped with its success.

“In the end, I’m surprised that it went that well,” Lanne said. “There haven’t been many moments that have been bad or anything. Even though I lost a couple of matches, I played good tennis in those.”

Lanne prided himself on his level of play. It was important for him to compete at a high level and show the others this team could win.

“I want people to remember I was a leader who led with an example,” Lanne said. “If I wanted other people to do something, I would go and do the same thing. If I talk the talk, I walk the walk. That’s the biggest thing, on and off the court.”

Lanne’s leadership style fit very well into the system that Head Coach Sander Koning worked to establish. The two complimented each other side-by-side to help the team find results. It’s bittersweet to them knowing Lanne won’t be around to see how future teams turn out, but they know the sport will go on, with or without him.

“It’s tough,” Lanne said. “I want good things to happen for this team and for the program. But, on the other hand, I know tennis still continues in my life. It’s tough, but I have confidence they will have a bright future with Coach Koning. We have good players who still have two, three years to go. I believe they’re going to have a good season to come.”

Since his days back at Old Dominion as an assistant coach, Koning could recall the times he has worked with players resembling Lanne’s nature.

“I’ve had it once,” Koning said. “You see it right away with the other guys on the team. They look up to players like that. They also see their passion and dedication. It’s so important to have. If I get a player like Rise every four years, that would be incredible. I cannot count on that, but guys like him, if you have them on your team, it’s great.”

This will not be Lanne’s official departure from the team yet when this season ends. As mentioned, he will have one more semester to work with his teammates.

“I’m going to come back in the fall, complete the degree,” Lanne said. “I don’t know exactly my role on the team in the fall, but I’ll still be involved. Then, at the moment, the major plan is to complete my military service starting next January.”

With how things have worked out for Lanne, this could be his last summer playing tennis the entire time. That is not the guaranteed case, but Lanne spoke with his father already about the possibility. However it works out, GS will always be glad for his contribution to men’s tennis and for the future of the program.

“We’ve had a really good season, regular season. It not only comes down to Rise, but all the players that are involved,” Koning said. “I’m very grateful for everything that the guys have been doing. We should see this as a beginning to something big. We’ve done some good things, but I know with these guys that are here, and the ones that we’re bringing in, that we will have much bigger aspirations.”

Lanne reflected on everyone who has helped him reach this point in his career.

“I’m really thankful for the opportunity to play here,” Lanne said. “I want to thank all my teammates, my coaches and staff. They’ve done everything in their ability to make my and the team’s experience the best I could ever have. It’s been a wild ride. It’s definitely worth all the hours that we put in.”