By Elyse Glahn, Guest Reporter
The Lutes’ women’s tennis team could not defend their new home courts at Sprinker Recreation Center, losing to Whitworth and Whitman last weekend.
Head coach Lorrie Wood said this year’s team is young, but the team has improved over the last two years.
Of the six varsity players, four are first-years.
“This year, we’re starting with a blank slate,” Wood said. “The girls are working really hard. We’re going in as underdogs, but that’s not a bad place to be.”
The 2012 season marks Wood’s fifth year as PLU’s women’s tennis coach.
Wood has adopted coaching tactics similar to women’s basketball head coach Kelly Robinson. Like the women’s basketball team, the players on the tennis team write journals about their goals.
“It’s a good form of communication,” Wood said.
Wood also borrowed some coaching tactics from former football head coach Frosty Westering.
“This year I’m implementing thought training,” Wood said. “Frosty Westering did a lot of that.”
Each player has a folder holding encouraging ideas. One example being a list that starts with the phrase, “I play tennis because...”
The new strategies seem to be working.
“I’m feeling pretty good this year, more confident,” sophomore Sophia Ro said. “I’m more comfortable at a collegiate level, where the players are more passionate about tennis.”
The Lutes’ men’s tennis team kicked off its season with a win against The College of Idaho Coyotes Feb. 17 at Sprinker Recreation Center. It was the Lutes’ first official home match at this facility.
The Lutes lost to Whitman and Whitworth last weekend, scoring only one point against each.
On Friday, doubles partners sophomore Neal Berg and first-year Spencer Herron triumphed over Whitman. The next day, captain junior Taylor Dickey earned a win against Whitworth.
“We are just focusing on getting better every day,” head coach Rocky Poulin said. “We understand that we get back what we put into it. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s always a good way to start the season.”
Last year, the Lutes’ record was 6-12 overall and 4-8 in conference, following a winning 2010 season with a record of 14-10.
Coach Poulin passes on encouraging words, keeping his comments concise and constructive while reminding the athletes to play to their strengths.
“He [Poulin] is a positive, high-energy coach and has the guys working hard,” assistant coach Craig Hamilton said. “He is also working hard on recruiting and telling the rich story of PLU tennis.”
Poulin is no stranger to the Lute tennis program. He was a three-time all-conference honors player for PLU from 1992 to 1995, when the team won four consecutive conference championships.
Poulin, former head coach Mike Benson and alum Clayton Harris also assist the Lutes this year.
“I feel like I have surrounded myself with amazing coaches that have so much to offer to these young men,” Poulin said. “We all have the same roots and philosophical beliefs when it comes to coaching.”
Annie Norling and Samantha Shockley contributed to this article.