14 Iowa Conference team titles
Reinforcements for an already experienced roster have given coach Steve Tyler hope for a turnaround in his fifth season as Central College men’s tennis coach.
Eleven letterwinners, including five of six starters, return from last year’s squad. The Dutch dropped to sixth place in the Iowa Conference, but Tyler saw plenty of promise to assure him that a breakthrough to the top is realistic.
Junior Kyle Freischlag has steadily moved his way up the lineup and will lead the charge at No. 1 singles. Freischlag was 3-16 at the No. 2 position last year and 9-11 at No. 4 as a freshman. He’s a veteran in the doubles lineup with two years of varsity experience.
“Kyle is the most seasoned player we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Tyler said. “He’s seen the best players in the conference at No. 1 doubles and can compete with anyone.”
Newcomer West Adelman of Geneva, Ill., has quickly forced his way into the picture. He posted a 4-0 singles mark in the fall and won the flight six singles title at the Ashford Invitational. Adelman will play the No. 2 position.
“West is physically blessed and a big player at 6-5,” coach Steve Tyler said. “He’s tall, fast and has a big serve. He volleys well and comes with a strong tennis background, having played in USTA tournaments. West lifts us to another level.”
Sophomore Collin Schares returns to the No. 3 spot where he compiled an 8-10 mark in his rookie campaign.
“Collin is really precise with his shots and is a great baseline player,” Tyler said. “He’s unflappable, with a great temperament for the game.”
Tim Kahl, last year’s most valuable freshman, slides up to No. 4 after a 12-7 record at the No. 5 slot. He placed third in the B flight of the individual conference tournament in the fall.
“He’s a grinder,” Tyler said. “Tim stays out on the court until he wins. He has a great attitude and puts in the extra time.”
There’s a three-way battle for the final two positions. Junior Zane Hendricks will get the initial nod at No. 5 while senior Pat Daly takes over No. 6, but sophomore Josh Forst will also be rotated in throughout the season.
Hendricks was 7-13 at No. 4 singles last year.
“Zane is probably the best athlete on the team and is capable of playing anywhere in the lineup,” Tyler said. “He just needs to win some challenge matches.”
After limited court time in the spring, Daly posted a 4-1 mark in the fall. He captured the flight C league title in 2010.
“Pat has a sports background and knows how to win,” Tyler said. “He stays positive, runs the court well and keeps the ball in play.”
Forst took runner-up honors in the B flight of the individual league tourney. He also helped compile a 9-11 record at No. 2 doubles last season.
“Josh has been sort of a doubles specialist for us and is looking to crack the singles lineup,” Tyler said.
John Seier will also get a hard look. He posted a 10-8 mark at No. 6 in his freshman campaign.
“John’s a crafty lefty and has an all-court game,” Tyler said. “He likes to approach and come up, has a good volley and tricky serve.”
Also in the picture are senior David Bouska and freshman transfer Travis Sensor of Sterling, Ill.
The doubles lineup, like the singles roster, will evolve throughout the season as challenge matches take place. For now, Tyler teams Adelman and Freischlag at No. 1, Kahl and Seier at No. 2 and Forst and Hendricks at No. 3.
A strong work ethic elevates the deepest squad Tyler’s ever had.
“This is the hardest working bunch of players I’ve been around,” Tyler said. “It’s refreshing to have that energy and commitment. It will pay huge dividends in the end.”
Assistant Nick Rohner, a 2008 Central grad, will also help guide the program back to the top. Rohner is in his fifth season.
“Nick is a big cog in the machinery for us,” Tyler said. “He’s dedicated to the program and does a nice job. A lot of schools don’t have that kind of strength in an assistant coach.”
Luther, Coe and Wartburg remain the favorites within the conference. But after some tight individual matchups last year, Tyler believes the Dutch can knock off the leaders.
“We can play with them,” he said. “We’re better up and down the lineup and it’s just a matter of putting it together on the right day.”