19 top-three league team finishes in past 34 years
2014-15 record: 11-8 overall (7-3 fall)
2014 Iowa Conference finish: 4th (4-3)
Starters returning: 4 (Angie Allgood, Megan Davis, Karianna Grindberg, Ashley Maley)
Starters lost: 2 (Sarah Montgomery, Katie Todd)
Letterwinners lost/returning: 4/10
Heading into year two under coach Ryun Ferrell, the Central College women’s tennis program begins the 2015 season on the hunt for even greater success after the team’s best Iowa Conference finish since 2008.
In his first season piloting the women’s tennis team, Ferrell steered the Dutch to an 11-6 record and fourth-place finish in the conference. Expectations are higher this year for a team that only lost two starters and is bringing in a talented freshman class.
“I’d like to think with the returners we have and the new people we are adding we should be very deep,” Ferrell said. “We were fourth in the league last year but we had chances to be second or third. We didn’t lose a ton from last year but we brought in a lot. I think we’ve got a shot, and that’s what you want, you want to be in the conversation.”
With 10 letterwinners returning and six freshmen joining the program, Ferell believes the talent is there to move further up the conference standings.
“I think we’ve got some good pieces in place, it’s going to be up to them to grab hold of what they want to grab hold of,” he said.
On a team featuring five sophomores in addition to the six freshmen, a strong senior class will need to do more than excel on the court.
“The thing that will be interesting to watch this year is my senior leadership core,” Ferrell said. “It may be my program, but it’s their team. I want them to take complete ownership of it and to go for it.”
Senior Angie Allgood will hold the No. 1 singles position, a spot she is held since her freshman season. She has a career singles record of 35-17 and went 9-8 in 2014-15. An all-conference selection three years in a row, Ferrell believes Allgood could receive even greater accolades in her final year.
“I think she has a shot at being the best player in the league,” Ferrell said. “I’m going to put her in the (ITA) regional and see if she can win a match or two there. Angie can go out and play against anyone and not be intimidated or scared; she’s fearless. She’s going to go out and play as hard as she can every time.”
After studying in Europe through Central’s international program in the spring, Megan Davis returns for her senior season. She will partner with Allgood to set the tone for every match at No. 1 doubles. The duo went 10-4 in the fall of 2014. The No. 2 singles player behind Allgood for most of her four years needs to secure her position.
“For Megan to get that No. 2 spot back, she’s going to have to completely earn it,” Ferrell said. “I don’t doubt she can do it, but we’ll just have to wait and see. She’s definitely going to bring that added depth we so desperately need.”
Also spending the fall doing mission work in New Jersey, senior Anna Bowser returned to the Dutch lineup in the spring and made a big impression on her new coach. Bowser went 6-2 in singles, mostly at No. 4, and should appear in this year’s lineup as well.
“When she plays a match, she ignores anything and goes after you with all that she has,” Ferrell said. “She hates losing more than she likes winning.”
Senior Jessie Ryals was a career-best 6-4 in doubles in the fall and 2-2 in singles. An elementary education major, Ryals will miss parts of this season because of academic commitments.
“We’re going to get her involved as much as we can,” Ferrell said. “It’s going to be tough because her schedule will be extremely demanding. We’re going to keep her as focused on tennis as we can, but she’s got a job to do with student teaching.”
Juniors Morgan Ernst and Allisyn Brandenburg, and sophomores Kari Grindberg and Ashley Maley were thrust into action early and often last fall and got better because of it.
“They had to grow,” Ferrel said. “It took a little bit of time for them to get used to me. They grew up very quickly once they understood the expectations and demands that were placed upon them.”
Paige Vannausdle and Holly Vander Pol joined the team in the spring after transferring to Central and both will look to make a greater impacts this year.
Six incoming freshmen will be joining the program this fall as Ferrell’s first full recruiting class. He views it as a talented group, but with 10 returners, lineup spots will be hotly contested.
“We’ll throw them out there and see what happens,” Ferrell said. “I would like to see them get some play time, but with the returners we have it’s going to be tough to do. We have a lot of experience coming back."
A 10-match schedule awaits the Dutch this fall, including six at home. The conference slate begins with three road matches, including at reigning champion Coe September 19. Central will seek to avenge two of last year’s three league losses when it hosts Wartburg and Luther to close the regular season.
“It’s a very favorable schedule and I’m excited about it,” Ferrell said.
A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex courts
Central’s six outdoor courts are getting a well-deserved facelift this summer. Coach Ferrell hopes the new design is something that features prominently in the memories of opponents.
“Our courts were resurfaced in August and we are going to make them a sea of red,” he said.
“We’re trying to develop a bit of a home-court advantage that’s unique. We want people to remember when they were here.”
The first matches on the revamped courts are September 5 against Monmouth (Ill.) and Knox (Ill.).