John Brown University’s men’s and women’s tennis teams will travel to Shawnee, OK, and compete against Oklahoma Baptist University, on April 16.
OBU is a formidable opponent, with the men’s team holding a 6-9 season record to the JBU men’s team’s 1-5 record. OBU’s women’s team holds 9-7 overall record to JBU’s 3-3.
For some on the team, such as freshman Claire Griffin, it will be the first time to play OBU as an opponent. But Griffin is not worried about playing them for the first time.
“A new opponent is never scary,” a confident Griffin said. “I like not knowing much about my opponent, because I just want to go out there and do my best. I don’t want them too much in my head. I just want to play the tennis I know how to play.”
Others, such as senior Blake Zoellner, have played OBU multiple times in their college careers and have some insight to offer about them as an opponent.
“OBU is always fun to compete against because the level of play they bring to the court,” Zoellner said in an email. “[Playing against them] always presents us with challenging competition.”
In the past, OBU has presented itself as a very strong competitor.
“In the past they’ve been a really strong team,” said Senior Courtney Pinter. “(Playing against them has) always taken some mental preparation. But this year, I think we’re the most mentally prepared we’ve ever been going into it.”
According to the players, their coach, Paul Pautsch, has intensified practices to better prepare them for facing OBU and other opponents as well.
“We practice every day, two hours a day,” Griffin said. “I think that if we do what coach says — stuff like ‘move our feet’ and the stuff he tells us in practice all the time, I think we can beat them.”
When it comes down to it, the team plans to play their absolute hardest against OBU. Part of that is being physically invested in every single play.
“I plan to just play my game and hustle on every play,” Zoellner said. “If I can do the little things right in my game, I will hope to experience good success.”
Another aspect of the team playing to their fullest potential is using experience that has been gained throughout the year. According to Pinter, although the team is young, they have matured and progressed and plan to use everything they have learned this year when playing OBU.
“I think every match we’ve learned more and more,” Pinter said. “I think how young our team is, the more experience we get, the better we get. I think every match is an opportunity to learn, and you can focus on those areas and practice.”
Finally, both JBU’s women’s and men’s teams plan to play OBU just as they play any other opponent, regardless of their record.
“As a senior, I’ve played them four years, and they’re really good,” Pinter said. “But I’m not like, ‘we don’t have a chance; we’re gonna get beat.’ I think we’re a lot better this year than we have been in previous years. I think it will be a good match, personally.”