WINONA LAKE – The Grace College men’s tennis team has a lot of question marks this year, according to head coach Larry Schuh.
With three new players on Grace’s roster this year, the Lancers will have to rely on new lineups and doubles’ combinations to carry the team in the competitive Crossroads League.
One question mark the team will hope to answer pertains to its mental toughness. Schuh gave the squad a book focused on mental toughness on the tennis court, and he believes the team is already showing growth through the preseason.
“A big focus of ours this year is on mental toughness,” Schuh said. “We want to limit our mistakes and put our opponent in bad situations. I’m excited to see our team grow in that area this season.”
Danila Kurkulin returns to play at No. 1 singles and doubles. Kurkulin had a sparkling 9-2 record at No. 1 doubles and was 7-3 in singles’ play. He also reached the tournament finals at the ITA Regionals in both singles and doubles, a first-time accomplishment for Grace’s program.
Uros Pajic tallied 10 wins for Grace at No. 2 singles and doubles, and Gabe Vervynckt had 11 wins at No. 2 doubles and No. 5 singles.
A key to Grace’s success this year hinges on the maturation of the freshmen and sophomores. Schuh called that facet “key to reaching our potential as a team.”
Sophomore Caleb Yoder and Adam Yoder earned consistent playing time in their first seasons last year and will be counted on to be regular contributors in 2016-17, and Connor Bates is back for his sophomore season to add much-needed depth.
A trio of freshmen from South America round out Grace’s roster. Twins Arturo Fonseca and Lucas Fonseca hail from Chile, and Diego Zamora is from Peru. Schuh maintained that all three have the potential to be starters this year.
“We will be a strong team but vastly different from last year. The bottom slots in our lineup will look very different,” Schuh said. “Our goal of winning the conference is the same from year to year. But equally important of a goal to us is representing Christ well on the tennis court.”
The Lancers will have a warmup to the season with the Marian Doubles Tournament on Aug. 27. The season opener is Aug. 30 at Goshen, and Grace’s first home game is Sept. 6 against Trine.