With a season that started by naming a new head coach, the men’s tennis team knew challenges were inbound. But, strong leadership and perseverance pushed them forward.
An 8-14 season with postseason accolades marked the 2014-2015 season for the Eagles as they went into new territory with new coaching personnel at their side.
Head coach Sander Koning was able to put the craziness of this season into one phrase: “Roller coaster.”
“But a lot of fun,” Koning added. “The team already played matches, so it was tough. I guess the big thing that helped me out was there was great leadership on this team. The players responded well.”
Senior Kyle Hoffman, senior Albert Codina Sala and junior Ristomatti Lanne were among some of the higher tier players on the team. Lanne played in the No. 1 position on the lineup for the season while Codina Sala took up No. 2. Hoffman was at the No. 3 spot.
“What made me decide to come here was the people that were here,” Koning said. “I got a sense there was a support for tennis; I could be part of that.”
To finalize their seasons, Lanne earned a spot on the Sun Belt All-Conference Singles First Team. Senior Codina Sala earned a position on the Second Team.
Koning went into detail about how the powerful leadership already present on the team helped with the season and progression of all the players.
“Our No. 1 and No. 2 had great success,” Koning said. “They showed that, ‘Hey, if you work hard and show support to this program, you will have success.’ They put it on themselves to be great leaders; and the younger guys see it. They see how they act and how they do.”
While the season may not have gone the Eagles way in every match, it taught them a lot about how to prepare for and what to expect in next year’s competition. Like Koning said, “If you put in the work, anything is possible.”
“We’ll build on what we did this semester and move forward,” Koning said. “The way I see it, with the other places I’ve been, is great knowledge of this sport and college profession. I’ve had really great mentors over the years.”
Hoffman and Codina Sala will be two of the seniors the Eagles will be losing. The returning players will still make up a strong team. It will just be another challenge losing those two when the new season starts again.
“They showed great leadership,” Koning said. “The legacy they leaft set such a good example. They set good blueprints; how you need to be as a leader. It’s really invaluable. The other guys are going to pick that up. They’ll show the same fashion as Kyle and Albert did with their leadership.”
The Eagles will be working hard over summer and be back in fall for the next year of competition.