April 8, 2011
Two matches, two regionally-ranked teams today
By David Boyce
Heading into today's matches in Lawton, Okla., against Cameron (Okla.) and Incarnate Word (Texas), the Northwest Missouri State men's tennis team has a sparkling record.
The Bearcats are 14-3 overall and 4-0 and in first place in the MIAA.
"It has been an outstanding year so far," Northwest Coach Mark Rosewell said. "We are having so much fun and playing so well. It has been great."
Truthfully, it's pretty amazing the Bearcats have such a good record when you consider the climate they play in.
Back in late February when teams in Oklahoma and Texas are outdoors practicing, Northwest had at least six inches of snow on its courts. A snowplow eventually had to clear the courts.
A few more snowstorms hit after that. It meant hours of practice inside Bearcat Arena.
What did the Bearcats do to get prepared for the season?
"You expect me to give up all the secrets," said No. 1 singles player Malcolm Harrison, who is 31-1 this season.
After Harrison laughed at his joke, he went on to tell what the Bearcats did during the cold months.
"It's a lot of work," he said. "It's not pleasant. If you are not a dedicated athlete, you can't do some of the things we have to do. You go in and move the bleachers, big bleachers all the way to the other side to clear the space.
"We practice where the basketball games are played. We have to get the poles for the nets, which are heavy. Set the nets up. It takes us 30 minutes to set up the courts."
Bearcat Arena gets plenty of use in February. Harrison said everybody works together to help each program out.
"We have to share the gymnasium with the track team and basketball," Harrison said. "The track coaches are pretty awesome. They do a good job of being flexible with their schedule of letting us get in there and work out.
"Everybody at Northwest wants the other programs to be successful."
On the tennis courts, the Bearcats are one of the best teams around in their region. But they want to climb higher. They are currently fourth in their region. Cameron, which is 13-3, is ranked higher.
"The top two teams get the home site, which is so important," Rosewell said. "Last year we had to go down to Texas and lost 5-4. I really thought if we were at home maybe we could have won 5-4.
"We are right in the middle. From now on every match is tough."
The matches today are probably the most important for the Bearcats until the MIAA Championships April 21-23 in Kansas City.
Northwest has three home matches left, including its final MIAA match against Nebraska-Omaha on April 19.
"The next two weeks are going to be pretty monumental," Harrison said. "We've been successful up to this point, but we have some tough matches left. We have Cameron this weekend. We also have Incarnate Word, which is a very tough team. Those are regional matches.
"What we are trying to do is stack as many regional wins as possible so we can host the regional tournament. The most crucial time of the season is now."
The 18th-ranked Bearcats take on 19th-ranked Cameron this morning at 9 a.m. The team will then battle 33rd-ranked Incarnate Word at 2p.m. in Lawton.
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
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