18 top-three league team finishes in past 31 years
PELLA—The Central College women’s tennis team, led by head coach Steve Tyler, is no longer in rebuilding mode. The Dutch finished fifth in the Iowa Conference last season with a 10-9 overall record, but return the top four singles players, including the top doubles team.
“The most important thing in our program is attitude,” Tyler said. “I am excited for the women coming back. We are in great shape, as far as people with positive attitudes and working hard. We are going to have a great time.”
Sophomores Angie Allgood and Megan Davis are positioned to return at the top two singles spots and the top doubles spot.
“We are very young on the women’s side,” said Tyler. “Angie played No. 1 for us a freshman and has a great opportunity to return to the top spot in both singles and doubles. She had a great first year and ended it on a good run. She and Megan will likely team up at the top doubles spot and lead us at No. 1 and No. 2 singles. If we are strong at the top of our lineup, we will be able to compete with anyone in the conference.”
Allgood was 12-6 in the top spot and won her final four matches of the season, including a 6-0, 6-2 win versus Wartburg’s top player in the Iowa Conference tournament consolation match. Davis finished the season with a 7-11 overall record at No. 2.
The duo was 12-7 at the top doubles spot and 4-3 in conference play.
“The remainder of the ladder will be a battle,” Tyler said.
Sophomore Anna Bowser is the other returning starter. Bowser led the team in wins (14), conference wins (six) and winning percentage (0.824). She was 9-2 at the No. 5 spot and, like Allgood, won her final four matches, including a 6-2, 6-2 win in the tournament consolation match.
“Anna Bowser was the top player at Fort Dodge in high school and gained a lot of confidence in her freshman season," Tyler said. "She is a competitor, enjoyed the season and learned how to win.
“I expect those three ladies to lead the team.”
The bottom of the lineup is wide open. Seven seniors and six letterwinners are on the roster and will try to climb the ladder. Nicole Curran is the lone senior letterwinner. The other four letterwinners are juniors Ashlyn Huegel, Jordan Langer and Sarah Montgomery and sophomore Katie Todd.
Seven freshmen will also battle for a spot, as well as sophomore Jessie Ryals, a Pella High School graduate.
“Sarah has played in the lineup since her freshman year,” Tyler said “Jessie played one match last season and freshman Morgan Ernst, also a Pella High School graduate, is available, as well. Mackenzie Evans is a freshman from Parkersburg and she is very athletic. She could play her way into the top six.
“All returners and newcomers are in the mix at the bottom of the lineup.
“The goals for our program are the same: self-satisfaction, fun, fitness, respect and a strong work ethic.”
The Dutch play 11 meets; six home, four away and one at a neutral site; in the fall season. Central hosts Monmouth (Ill.) and Knox (Ill.) in the home opener on Aug. 31 (9 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and close the regular season with a four-match homestand.
“It is a quick season. We start in late August and end in early October,” said Tyler. “There are only a few practices before our first competition. It is critical that the women have put in some time over the summer and are in good tennis shape and ready to go. We expect that to be true. I am excited. I think we can surprise some folks."
Tyler envisions the two teams at the top of the conference will be tough, once again, but other teams are challenging.
“Coe and Luther are the teams to beat, but we will compete with everybody,” Tyler said. “Last season versus Luther, our top doubles team (Allgood and Davis) lost in a tiebreaker and Anna Bowser won in a third-set super tiebreaker at No. 5 singles. We are beginning to push the top.”
Following the end of the regular season, the Dutch compete in the Iowa Conference individual tournament on Oct. 5-6 on the Coe campus in Cedar Rapids. The six-team Iowa Conference team tournament, using team dual records from the fall as qualifiers, is slated for the spring, previously a non-traditional portion of the women’s tennis calendar.
“The timing of the two tournaments changes the outlook on the spring,” said Tyler. “The spring is much more important for the team to qualify for the NCAA tournament. The spring was originally non-traditional, but it is not in that category anymore. We play almost the same number of weeks in both seasons, but the NCAA qualifier is in the spring, as is the tournament. So, it points toward the spring, but we need to finish in the top six this fall to qualify for the conference tournament in the spring. This program is built for and we are shooting to win the Iowa Conference.”
In addition to Tyler, the Dutch are led by assistant coaches Nick Rohner and Rod Braun. Rohner is in his sixth season and works with both the men and women, while Braun is in his 10th season and works exclusively with the women’s team.
“Having two assistant coaches is huge,” Tyler said. “Central is different than most programs. We place a large emphasis on inclusion and impacting as many student-athletes as possible. I am an advocate of the no-cut policy and proud of the fact that we have large rosters. We try to give every player a full tennis experience. Coach Rohner and Coach Braun provide coaching depth and allow us to work with all players.”
A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex courts and H.S. Kuyper Fieldhouse indoor courts
In the past five years, Central resurfaced the six outdoor courts and installed a Mondo surface on the five courts inside H.S. Kuyper Fieldhouse, which is ideal for tennis competition.
“Our facilities are near the top of the Iowa Conference,” said Tyler. “Our outdoor courts are in great shape and our indoor facility is as good as any around. It is nice to have these assets. The majority of Midwest schools do not have the facilities we have at Central.
The Dutch open the 2013 season versus Monmouth (Ill.) in Pella on Aug. 30 at 9 a.m.