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Geenen-izing opponents
By Drew DeVries

Sophomore Lis Geenen doesn’t let much bother her.

She faced the best players on every team at the No. 1 singles slot in her first year at Calvin and would always find a way to challenge those opponents. She helped her team to a 9-12 conference record good enough for a fourth-place finish in the MIAA. This year, Calvin women’s head tennis coach Jerry Bergsma saw an opportunity to make the team stronger. Calvin was bringing in a pair of solid freshmen, so he decided to move Geenen to No. 3 singles this season. She took the move in stride.

“When I was playing the No. 1 position, I had to always play the best player, which was tough but a really good experience for me,” said Geenen, a Holland (Mich.) Christian grad. “Playing [No.] 3 singles was a lot of fun for me this year. I got to play more of a variety of players, and I think that helped me really improve my game.”

Lis GeenenThe move made this year’s lineup that much stronger. Moving Geenen down in the lineup immediately affected this year’s squad. Calvin set a school record for victories in a season with an 18-6 finish and captured second place in the MIAA, just missing the league title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“Obviously, when you can move your best player down in the lineup, it takes a lot of pressure off her and the rest of the team,” Bergsma said. “Lis’ style of play is conducive to that third spot in that she is not overly powerful but is extremely consistent. She has a great ability to always challenge her opponents.”

Challenging opponents is what Geenen does best. At the No. 3 spot this season, she finished with an impressive 19-4 record, which led the team in singles victories. With her patient and consistent play, she was able to frustrate her opponents and fit in nicely in her new position.

Besides just winning matches, Geenen, an accounting major, assists her team by playing hard and consistent. “We gave Lis a label for how she impacts this team,” Bergsma said. “We call it ‘Geenen-izing.’ She is such a consistent and unflappable player and is continually frustrating her opponents.”

“I want to continue to work at different parts of my game,” Geenen said. “I have to get better at my serve, and I need to work at getting more comfortable playing up at the net.”

Although she has different individual goals, she thinks about team goals as being most important. “We want to win conference,” she said. “That’s definitely our big goal.”

With Geenen already thinking about how she wants to improve and help her team win that league title, Bergsma is ecstatic about how far she has already come. “She is so patient and has a deceivingly strong forehand that can be devastating,” he said. “And from a mental standpoint, she is very persistent and doesn’t let things get to her. She’s athletic and gets to everything opponents throw her way. It’s a testament to her abilities how she can frustrate her opponents so much.”

With such a calm and consistent player on their hands, the Knights are likely to be a threat in the conference once again next spring. That being said, Coach Bergsma can’t wait to see how she “Geenen-izes” the team next year.