pictured is the 2015 Grace men's tennis team
Grace’s men’s tennis team comes into the 2015 season with a new look.
Apart from the squad’s new Nike uniforms, the Lancers will feature several fresh faces in key positions.
Head coach Larry Schuh, who has led Grace to two Crossroads League titles since 2012, maintains that this year’s team has the talent to win another crown. Schuh has built Grace into an annual contender for the league championship, leading the Lancers to a third-place finish and a 7-3 record in 2014.
“I am very excited for the season because we have the potential to be stronger than last year,” he said. “We are very much improved up and down the lineup. As a coach, I know we have the potential to accomplish our goal, which is to win conference.”
Schuh revealed that the doubles’ lineup would look very different as would the top three singles’ positions.
Seniors Ethan Grove and Ricardo Bedon bring experience and leadership to the squad, and juniors Gabe Vervynckt and Jacob Stump were key contributors in 2014.
A pair of sophomore newcomers — Danila Kurkulin and Uros Pajic — figure to be major factors to Grace’s success this fall. Kurkulin, a native of Haifa, Israel, can compete at the No. 1 singles position, replacing graduated All-League senior Daniel Sanchez.
Brennan Angle, Connor Bates, Adam Yoder, Caleb Yoder and Jackson Zvers are also new to Grace’s roster this year, giving Schuh one of the deepest squads he’s had.
For Grace to reach its goal of qualifying for NAIA Nationals, the outcome may rest on the team’s doubles’ play. Schuh believes this squad “has the opportunity to be the best doubles’ team in the conference. All of our guys are very adept at handling the difficulties that doubles can bring to a team.”
Grace’s singles’ play will look to improve from last year’s form. Schuh believes the Lancers’ resiliency will carry them through the grind of the season. “We had some very gritty wins that involved my players fighting right down to the last point,” Schuh said. “When a tennis match turns into a dogfight, this team will rise above and fight for each other.”
While the Lancers will gun for a spot at NAIA Nationals this fall, the team is aiming just as intently for spiritual growth. “Our word of emphasis this year is ‘focus.’ Your focus determines your reality,” Schuh said. “If Christ is our focus, everything else takes care of itself.”
The Lancers kick off the season with four straight Crossroads League matches at home. Grace’s first league contest is Sept. 3 against Taylor at 4 p.m.