Men’s tennis has high hopes for their season

By Patrick Murphy

On Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to sit down with the top five players on the men’s tennis team (Chris Fowler ’12, Evan Elderbrock ’12, Lewis Wilcox ’12, Max Edwards ’13 and Stephen Tyndel ’13) to discuss everything from jellybeans to pot roast and grunting. What’s the team dynamic like? Elderbrock: It’s here and there. It’s a good group, but we don’t all know each other that well, necessarily. Some of us older people know each other pretty well. I was abroad last year, so that didn’t help. Max (Edwards) was abroad last semester. He (Tyndel) is a transfer. Fowler: Lewis has been sick and injured… for the last three years. This is also probably the oldest team we’ve had in a while. Five of the top six are upperclassmen. Although we’ve got Soggy (Max Soghikian ’14) at six, who’s basically still a teenager. Elderbrock: Mentally, physically. Fowler: Emotionally, spiritually. What’s your analysis on the way things have gone thus far? Fowler: Well, we’ve played three matches, and we’re 2-1 thus far. Elderbrock: We’ve played two horrendous teams and one really quality team. It’s pretty hard to say where we’re at. We haven’t played a benchmark team yet. Conference play starts up pretty soon. We play Gustavus who’s probably nationally ranked this Saturday. Fowler: Gustavus is nationally ranked. They’ve got two players who are nationally ranked. Elderbrock:…So, that’s gonna be a tough one. I don’t think our coach has ever won a point against them in his tenure here. Fowler: They also did win 40 MIAC Championships in a row. What were your goals coming into this season? Elderbrock: I expect for sure that we make playoffs (top six in MIAC). I really expect that we’re five, and if we’re not above that, it’s a little disappointing. Our sophomore year we made playoffs, and I definitely think we can repeat that. Fowler: There are some very good teams in the conference. But ya’ know, St. Thomas and St. Olaf are beatable. Edwards: And we play them the week after Gustavus, so those’ll be kind of the benchmark matches. Tyndel: Coming in as a transfer, I didn’t really have any expectations. I transferred from Pfieffer University in North Carolina. They were the Pfalcons. Elderbrock: Really? They’re spelled “P-Falcons?” Tyndel: No. But our mascot was Pfreddy the Pfieffer Pfalcon. But yeah, I came in expecting that maybe the conference might not be as strong as what I was used to, but just by seeing Regionals, I see that it’s a lot more competitive than what I was anticipating. So, my goals are just based on what these guys have told me, but I can see that nothing’s going to be really easy at all. Edwards: Well, my freshman year was the year we won conference and beat St. Thomas, so after that year, my expectations were set kind of high, and then we had a down year last year and didn’t make the playoffs. But this year for sure, like Evan said, to make top five and see what we can do… We have a good team this year. Elderbrock: Probably our most quality skill-wise in our four years here. So, that’s good. Fowler: I think our target is to get to number four in conference with this team. So, one win over a quality opponent. Did you guys come back early for preseason? Fowler: This was actually the first year we’ve had preseason. Actually last year we were supposed to have it, but there was a mistake in scheduling, and we didn’t start practice until February first. Elderbrock: So even the first week of school we didn’t have practice. Fowler: Carleton had played two matches before we stepped on a practice court. Elderbrock: Yikes… Tyndel: But preseason was fun. I had my first Juicy Lucy. That was a great introduction, ya’ know? Because I didn’t really have that last semester. Elderbrock: Besides Spring Break, it’s definitely the most important bonding experience we have. You’re exerting yourself together physically three times a day, and aside from that we hang out together off the court, too. Fowler: We found jellybeans. Elderbrock: In our hearts. (all laugh) Fowler: I bought two pounds of jellybeans. Tyndel: We just ate four more pounds last week. Elderbrock: $16 at Costco. What’s the Spring Break trip like? Fowler: Well, we go to Hilton Head, South Carolina, so it’s pretty rough. Elderbrock: We play five matches in six days. And the rest is beach time and whatnot. Gator watching, for example. Edwards: One year Lewis became good friends with an octogenarian. Our grill was broken, so we had to use hers. And she and Lewis developed an intimate relationship. He left her a letter with his number and email address. Fowler: We’re gonna’ check to see if she’s alive this year. How would you describe the team as a whole? Elderbrock: That’s kind of messed up for you to homogenize us like that. I mean, we’re like eight people (all laugh). But I guess I’m the crazy guy. I bring a lot of insanity. I’m not afraid to go off on an opponent who’s being a douche. Fowler: Like last weekend. Elderbrock: Correct. It was sweet. I’ll call a bastard out if he’s hooking me. I screamed at him, “Keep it classy!” Despite the fact that I definitely wasn’t keeping it classy. Stephen, what’s your role on the team? Tyndel: Umm, they just call me Tinder Fire. That’s my role so far. Fowler: Just about everybody’s got nicknames. We lost our resident World of Warcraft player to graduation last year, so now we have Evan Elderbark out of respect to his memory. There’s definitely a pirate fascination on the team. Edwards: It happened last year at Hilton Head and just kind of took off. Fowler: We were flying in, and our coach had way too much coffee on the flight, so he was really giddy, and he told us, “Ya know, Black Beard ran ashore near here.” And no one said anything for like thirty seconds, so I yelled out, “Yarrr, ‘tis a fun fact, indeed! And there has been a lot of emphasis on r’s since then. Could we go over tennis slang? Fowler: Hooking is when somebody calls a ball out that was in, which goes along pretty well with our pirate theme. So, anytime I see someone getting hooked I yell out, “Yarrr!” Tyndel: Tree’ing means you’re getting lucky. It’s kind of a Southern thing. Fowler: Pushing is hitting the ball, slowly, deep. You’re just trying to get it back without being aggressive. Elderbrock: You don’t really swing through the ball. You just kind of do this (demonstrates weak swing with light moaning sound). Fowler: Tanking is when you win the first set, but you’re out of energy so you purposefully lose the second set. Tyndel: Or just say, “screw it.” And lose the whole thing. Elderbrock: And pot-roasting is when you just get really lazy. (Wilcox enters room) Wilcox: I’m not too early, am I? Elderbrock: We were actually just talking about you. We were talking about pot roast hands. Wilcox: I would say pot roast hands are over-cooked. Brothy would be another word I would use to describe them. Elderbrock: Another term is “Tweener.” I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this, but that’s when the only way to hit a ball is to return it through your legs. Fowler: You can lose your ability to have kids that way, too. How does grunting play into your games? Edwards: I’d say Tyndel’s the loudest. Tyndel: I’m a grunter. Elderbrock: I’d say screamer. He had nothing on the guy from St. Cloud who made orgasm sounds every time he hit the ball. I wanted to peg him in the face. What’s the Canadian dynamic like? (Fowler and Tyndel are both Canadian) Elderbrock: God, it’s horrible. Edwards: They don’t talk. Wilcox: They just apologize constantly. Fowler: It’s nice to have another Canadian on the team. Tyndel: He’s from the suburbs, though. I’m urban. It’s a completely different thing. Sometimes our cultures don’t mix too well. Hypothetical situation– If there are some people on campus who haven’t been to a tennis match… Elderbrock: You mean everybody on campus? Why should they come to a match? Fowler: I don’t know if we actually have another home match. Edwards: We don’t, actually. Elderbrock: The courts are shredded. We literally can’t play on them. And our athletic director decided to spend $300,000 on a new scoreboard, but we can’t play
on our courts. But if someone were to travel to watch us, I could guarantee some entertainment value. Fowler: We also win matches from time to time. Elderbrock: Which makes it more enjoyable than some sports, maybe. We also don’t use racial slurs.