After their sport was pulled off the chopping block last spring, IVCC’s men’s tennis players have plenty of motivation to do well this season.
“Just the fact that we almost got cut last year, we all know it’s important to keep our grades up as well as do well on the court,” La Salle-Peru graduate and IVCC sophomore Dan Johnson said.
The Eagles have certainly done that.
IVCC’s men’s tennis has done especially well in the classroom as it boasts the school’s highest team GPA at 3.67.
“I think it’s a pretty strong statement to say we have the highest GPA. I think it’s something we should be proud of,” said Johnson, a co-captain who owns a 4.0 GPA and has been named a Thomas J. McCormack Scholar, which is one of the highest academic honors at the school. “We have a dedicated group of guys who focus on the classroom just as much as on the court. I don’t think anyone’s taking any so-called ‘easy’ classes. It’s good to see everyone doing well.”
IVCC coach Julie Milota said she has a motivated group of players.
“They are hard workers,” Milota said. “They have big goals, so their goals drive them to do well in the classroom. That’s just the way they operate.”
She also credits the IVCC athletic department for fostering an environment that supports academics.
“I would say what happens with our athletic program at IVCC is we hold them accountable for their classes and their attendance, so I think that helps greatly in our success with our GPA for our athletic department in general.”
The men’s tennis team has had success on the court as well.
After Monday’s 10-3 victory, the Eagles are 7-3 with the NJCAA Region IV Tournament set to begin Thursday at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.
“The year started off a little rough. We didn’t do too well the first two matches, but after that, I think we finally kicked it into gear a little bit and started buckling down and realized we had to really focus in,” Johnson said. “Ever since then, we’ve pretty much been rolling. Everyone’s had their troubles, but everyone’s made a lot of progress.”
Prairie State and Elgin are the top two seeds in the tournament followed by Moraine Valley and the Eagles.
Milota believes the Eagles have a chance to finish in the top three and become a national tournament qualifier.
“There are two teams that are pretty well stacked (Prairie State and Elgin),” Milota said. “We are too. However, they’ve had more availability of indoor court time, so they did head us off at the beginning of the season. I still think we can do very well against them now. We’ll just see how it turns out.”
Milota feels IVCC has a good chance to beat out Moraine Valley.
“Moraine Valley is the team we came closest to beating, and I felt like we should have pulled out a couple matches,” Milota said. “Had we had more practice under our belts, I feel like we could have accomplished that.”
Kevin Chlum is the NewsTribune Sports Editor. He can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.