Friday, June 01, 2012
By Mitch Blankespoor
“I first met Phil (Reinken) during my first ever stop on Calvin’s campus,” junior Preston Phillips said. “I knew right then and there we were going to become friends.”
Phillips, of Bexley, Ohio, started playing tennis at a young age and continued into high school. There he made the state finals his senior year, and decided he liked the sport enough; he did not want his career to end after high school. “I knew I wanted to play tennis in college, but I was also looking for a school with a good engineering program,” he said.
Calvin fit the mold perfectly. During his freshman year, he was in many of the same engineering classes as his roommate, Phil Reinken, of Morton, Ill., and another future teammate Brian DeMaagd.
Reinken, chose to come to Calvin for some of the same reasons Phillips did.
“I met Preston on my visit to Calvin during my senior year of high school. We stayed overnight with Andrew (DeVlieger); a current player on the team. All three of us decided then and there we wanted to have a tennis suite.”
As a freshman, Phillips played first doubles right out of the gate. He also rotated between third and fourth singles for much of the first year. For Reinken, his first year of tennis was more of a challenge; he played sixth singles most of the year, but appeared in only two doubles matches.
“Not gonna lie, I was a little annoyed to not be in the doubles lineup every day. Looking back on it now, I wasn’t ready back then. It was a learning experience for me,” Reinken reflected.
Their freshmen season ended in the MIAA tournament finals with a loss to Kalamazoo. Phillips ended the season with a record of 13-7 in singles and 13-10 in doubles. Reinken ended his freshmen season with a 13-8 record in singles and 2-0 record in doubles.
Phillips and Reinken’s sophomore year ended the same way their first year did—with a loss to Kalamazoo in the MIAA tournament finals. Phillips bolstered his record to 16-4 at fourth singles and 15-8 at first doubles. Rienken went 12-3 playing all but one match at six singles and an impressive 16-3 at a combination of second and third doubles.
This season Phillips and Reinken played second and third singles, respectively. And, after a switch early in the season in the doubles pairs, Phillips and Reinken played together on the team’s annual spring break trip.
“We got off to a real rocky start,” Reinken reflected. “It took us a couple matches to learn each other’s playing styles.”
After dropping their first two matches, the tennis duo hit their stride. They knocked off the nationally ranked doubles teams of DePauw University (Greencastle, Ind.) and Kalamazoo College.
“After two matches of losing to teams we both felt we should have beat, we played some of the best tennis of the year against DePauw and Kalamazoo,” Phillips said.
The two played one doubles the rest of the year, and finished with a record of 10-4. They also proved to be the MIAA’s best first doubles team as they knocked off Hope and Kalamazoo in the tournament finals.
Phillips, who is concentrating in mechanical engineering, hopes to land a job involving thermo-dynamics upon graduating from Calvin next spring. He is currently an intern at Innotec— a company that makes lighting components for vehicles. Reinken, concentrating in chemical engerineering, hopes to work in the oil industry and find alternative ways to fuel vehicles.
But first they have some unfinished business on the tennis court. They want to accomplish something no other Calvin men’s tennis team has: “Our goal is to beat Kalamazoo, and win the MIAA conference championship next year,” Phillips said. “We want to leave a legacy as being a part of one of the best tennis teams in school history.”