The Goshen College men’s and women’s tennis teams kick off their spring season this weekend. Both will travel to Bethel University and Christian Brothers University in Tennessee before heading to South Haven, Mississippi for a match at Blue Mountain University.

Carmen Aliaga, a sophomore on the women’s tennis team, said, “I think it’s exciting, especially since when I played in high school, it was always in the fall, never in the spring. We get to play more, which is what we as a team want.”

Goshen’s tennis teams don’t typically have a full spring season, only playing a game or two when possible. This year, however, Coach Jon Bemisderfer wanted to provide the team with more opportunities to compete. 

The team is building off of some individual success and conference wins in the fall season. The women’s team finished at 4-7, and Blanka Bodo, Szofia Kallai and Sude Aytekin were named All-Conference, which was the first time women’s tennis has had three All-Conference awards since 1999. The men’s team finished 3-7 with Filippo Gallo named to the All-Conference team.

An agreement with Warsaw Racquet Club has provided the team with indoor tennis facilities for the past few weeks.

“I want the players that come here to have kind of the whole tennis experience as well as the college experience,” Bemisderfer said. “I want them to have the opportunities to play.” The fall season only has 11 regular season games, which he said is “not very enticing to bring them in.”

Pedro Scattolon, a junior on the men’s tennis team, is excited for the added competition, particularly after the team didn’t have much of a spring season during his first two years.

“I came here to play tennis, right?” he said. “Not having those preseasons before was tough, because the full season is short. It’s only one-month and a half maximum, so now being able to play more and stay more involved with the sport is very good.”

Competing against opposing teams also provides athletes a chance to work on specific aspects of their game.

“I’ve been trying to focus a lot on the forehand and on the volleys,” Scattolon said, “which are both my downsides. Volleys have been improving a lot. Forehand — sometimes very good, sometimes bad. It’s more irregular.”

Another key aspect of tennis to work on is the mental game.

“I don’t want to show [an] opponent weakness,” he said. “If you start complaining, throwing the racket, screaming — it’s like you’re showing weakness and you’re not having a good moment, and they will benefit from that. It will give them more energy, so I try to stay as calm as I can. 

“Anyway, I scream a lot, but it’s also the adrenaline of the game — [it] happens in every sport.”

Coach Bemisderfer mentioned Morgan Priebe, a first-year on the women’s tennis team, as an athlete putting in work and seeing significant improvement throughout her first season. 

She has been taking private lessons in the offseason to help herself hone in on specific areas of improvement.

“I’ve just been trying to work on everything,” she said. “I know I needed to improve on my groundstrokes, my serve, my volleys — everything. Just putting in the time, honestly, just trying to play whenever you can. 

“Any chance you can get on the court — just take it and just always look for the opportunities. I think that’s always the most important.”

Moving forward, Bemisderfer hopes that having some new opponents will sharpen the Leafs up for the fall season.

“My primary goal is to be competitive in the Crossroads,” he said. “Playing these matches against different teams and different opponents we don’t normally play against — the competition will be strong.

“The other is to be able to bond as a group, as a team. I love to compete, and I know that we have players that do as well, so I think it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”