14 Iowa Conference team titles
2013-14 record: 13-10 overall, 11-10 spring
2013-14 Iowa Conference finish: 4th (4-3)
Iowa Conference team titles: 4
Letterwinners lost: 3
Letterwinners returning: 5
Starters returning: 4 (West Adelman, Josh Forst, Tim Kahl, Collin Schares)
In his first year at the helm of the Central College men’s tennis program, coach Ryun Ferrell is excited to see what an experienced group of athletes can do in the Iowa Conference.
In taking over for retired coach Steve Tyler, Ferrell inherits a roster that returns five letterwinners, featuring the four of the top five singles players.
Despite being on the job since June, Ferrell has had limited time with his men’s team. Also the coach for the women’s program, Ferrell spent most of the fall working with that team during their primary season and the men’s fall schedule was more abbreviated than it will be in the years ahead. Ferrell sees the need to catch up.
“The biggest part of the first few weeks of the season is getting to know the guys a little better,” Ferrell said. “I need to see who they are and see what makes them tick and what doesn’t make them tick”
A 13-10 finish last year for the Dutch earned them a fourth-place finish in the Iowa Conference for a second consecutive season. Fourteen conference championship trophies reside in Central’s trophy case, however, the league has since been ruled by Coe, winners in nine of the last 14 years.
“Coe has been the big hog at the trough for a while now,” Ferrell said. “They’ve dominated the league for a long time.”
Ferrell is working to flip the mindset of his players towards the possibilities of winning the title.
“We’ve got a question that we ask ourselves: ‘Why not us?,’” Ferrell said. “And we’re going to continue to ask that question until it is us.”
Despite the returning experience, Ferrell is still unsure of what he has for a team. Last year’s top two singles players missed the entirety of the abbreviated fall season with an injury and a military commitment.
“I only had three weeks with them in the fall, and I didn’t have (junior) West Adelman or (senior) Tim Kahl,” Ferrell said. “Those are two huge cogs to the watch and I have no idea how they play. With only having three weeks, we only played one tournament and even then I didn’t get to see everyone play.”
Two-time all-Iowa Conference player Adelman is the favorite to control the No. 1 singles slot again this season. After going 12-7 in singles last spring, the junior missed the fall semester while spending time with the U.S. Marine Corps. A military veteran himself, Ferrell is intrigued by what the experience might have done for Adelman.
“I think he is going to be a different cat,” Ferrell said. “I know how different you are coming out of what you’ve been through with the military. I’m kind of excited as to what he is going to be like. I think he is going to be a completely different player than what I understand he’s been like in years past.”
Kahl returns to the lineup after going 7-10 at No. 2 singles last season. A prolific doubles players, Kahl is 49-30 in his doubles career. He ranks ninth in school history for career doubles wins. Even while sidelined by injury, Kahl’s leadership was still apparent to his new coach.
“Tim has stepped up as a leader and done a nice job,” Ferrell said. “Even though he’s been injured, he’s still been very involved. That shows me a lot about his character.”
Kahl and Adelman will likely join forces to maintain the No. 1 doubles spot again this season.
Fellow seniors Josh Forst and Collin Schares are three-year letterwinners and provide additional experience. Last season, Forst manned the No. 3 singles spot while Schares took care of No. 4.
“Josh is one of the more excited people about tennis,” Ferrell said. “He’s been an incredible emotional leader because he is so excited to play every day. He’s very good at doubles, I’m excited to see him get even better than that.
“I like Collin’s game because he’s the kind of guy that’s just going to get it back across the net one more time than you and drive you nuts,” said Ferrell.
Senior Chris Kosmicki spent parts of last season at No. 3 doubles, earning a 3-5 record.
The rest of the lineup will be filled by a promising crop of newcomers.
“All of the freshmen are very tough,” Ferrell said. They’re a bunch of gym rats. All they want to do is play or lift or do something. They take what I say to heart and they get right to work with it.”
Previously the head coach of the women’s programs at Drake and Northern Illinois, Ferrell enters his first season as head coach for the men’s program at Central. He is joined by recent Central graduate Jordan Langer. Langer was a four-year letterwinner for the Central women’s team. After graduating in December, she has come aboard as an assistant for the men’s and women’s teams.
“More than anything, she’s just excited to be here, and that’s what you want in an assistant,” said. “She’s not looking at it as a job, she’s looking at it as a lifestyle. She wants to be here and she wants to work to make the program better. I’m just ecstatic to have her on staff.”
Central has access to six outdoor courts on the west side of P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium and five courts in H.S. Kuyper Fieldhouse.
“Being a part of a college that has access to indoor and outdoor courts is a huge competitive advantage for our athletes to have the opportunity to train year-round,” Ferrell said.
Central’s schedule features eight non-conference matches, including seven before the start of conference play.
“The point of our non-conference schedule is to see if we can get the right team together so we can go forward with the league and put our best foot forward,” Ferrell said. “We have plenty of matches to make that happen.”
The Dutch open the conference season with an April 4 dual at Buena Vista. The top six teams in the regular season standings qualify for the league team tournament May 2, hosted by the top seed.
“I’m thoroughly excited to get going,” Ferrell said. “I just can’t wait. I haven’t been this excited for a long time.”