Men's tennis is off to a triumphant start in the 1996 season. Five first-year players and a new head coach combined with three upper-class players for a victory in their first home match this past weekend.
This is head coach Chris Barker's first year at Oberlin. He coached a successful soccer season this fall and is now working towards a winning season with the tennis team. It seems as though he is looking for a fresh start with the Yeomen. Barker said, "Anything from the past I got rid of. It all starts fresh." In tune with the players and bringing experience and discipline to the team, Barker helped lead the Yeomen to a 5-2 win over Wabash University on Saturday.
Barker is excited about the prospects of having a young team and four seasons to gain experience. He said, "The five freshmen really speak well for the future." Junior Andy Sklarin was in agreement. He said, "The five freshmen are all strong players and will provide a good base for the future."
Normally, a college tennis team in the conference would have from 12 to 15 players, with a minimum number of six to field a team. The Yeomen only have eight players to perform in six singles matches and three doubles matches. The lone senior on the team, Adam Shoemaker, who holds the number one spot in singles and in doubles, said, "We're still bigger than last year when we only had six people."
This small number is apparently pulling the team together. Everyone gets to play in at least one match, so everyone has the opportunity to pull the team closer to a victory. Sklarin pointed out, "Everyone's playing, so everyone is getting stronger and used to playing so they can step in if someone gets hurt."
Shoemaker said, "Everyone understands we're trying to get match experience for everyone."
Since it's early in the season, players are still trying to find their places in the line-up. Barker said, "The five through eight positions are all fairly equal in talent.... It's hard to figure out who goes where." The team is spending time this week playing challenge matches as they work to solidify positions.
Barker is optimistic about the rest of the season and excited about the team. He said, "The best thing I like about this team is they are all incredible guys, hardworking, no prima donnas, and talented."
The Yeomen play their second home match this Saturday against Carnegie Mellon University. No one seems to have the inside scoop on Carnegie Mellon. Sklarin said, "We don't know a whole lot about them. It's like we're going in blind, but we'll play our best."
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 16; March 1, 1996
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