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Calvin Sports News
Young tennis team looks to improve
By Jeff Febus
Nate Kraai

After two years of collegiate tennis, Nate Kraai has learned that a positive attitude can go a long way.

A sophomore, Kraai was a member of a Calvin men's tennis team that was without five of its top six players from the previous year and struggled through a 3-12 campaign that included a fifth-place finish in the MIAA.  At the MIAA Championships, the Knights lifted their effort and their attitude to finish in fourth place with 41 points.

"We went through some struggles this year but the one thing I learned is that a positive attitude can make a big difference in how a team performs," said Kraai.  "At the MIAA Championships, we all came together and played our best tennis of the year.  We showed that we were a much better team than what our record might have indicated."

At the conference championships, Kraai reached the third-place match at No. 3 singles after battling through a three-set victory in the consolation semifinals.  He then teamed with senior Andrew Brand at No. 3 doubles to reach the third-place match where the tandem fell in a tough three-set match.

Kraai's doubles performance came despite inexperience in playing the two-man game.  A graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, Kraai was primarily a singles player during his prep career.

"In high school you usually play either singles or doubles and I played singles so when I came to Calvin, I had to learn how to play doubles," said Kraai.  "Playing doubles is a different game.  You have to communicate with your partner and play a lot of different angles.  You also have to realize that you aren't controlling play by yourself and need to work with your partner."

Kraai began playing tennis while in the fifth grade and continued to play through the high school level.  "I didn't take tennis too seriously when I first began playing but as I got into high school I found out that I really enjoyed it," said Kraai.  "I never pictured myself playing tennis at the collegiate level when I was younger but I'm glad that I have the opportunity to play college tennis now."

When looking for a college to attend, Kraai was not sure at first about attending a school just a few miles from home.  "I was kind of wary about coming to Calvin because I thought it would just be an extension of high school but I found out that it isn't like that at all," said Kraai who is majoring in business communications with a minor in political science. "I've found that Calvin is a big community that is very close-knit.  I have had a lot of wonderful professors and I have met a lot of people from all over the country.  Calvin is a place I have really come to love."

As for next year's tennis season, Kraai and the rest of his teammates have their eyes set on an improvement over this year's finish.  "We definitely feel like we can take a step forward next year," he said.  "The big thing we learned is that we can't take summer lightly.  Last year, the members of our team did not work much individually on their own during the summer and that cost us in the standings.  We're not going to let that happen again because we know the rest of the competition in our league is working too.  The competition in the MIAA has really improved from top to bottom so we know that if we want to move up in the standings, we have to put in the necessary work to improve.

Men's Tennis

Knights in Action
Calvin vs. Spring Arbor (4/14/01)

Spring Break Victories
Chimes reports on the action

MIAA Tennis


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