The OBU tennis teams have made strides to be more competitive within a conference and region that annually produces national championship caliber squads.
"Our men's team has the potential to be very competitive this spring," said OBU coach Sue Dick. "Our goal is to place second in our conference and in the top three at Regionals. In order to do this, we need to cut down on double faults and unforced errors, identify strategically who our key players are and win at least two of three doubles matches in all of our dual matches."
Similarly, the women have their work cut out for them.
"The goal for our women's team is to finish in the top three in both regionals and our conference," said Dick. "Double faults and unforced errors need to be eliminated and improving our competitive focus played a monumental role in our performance this past fall."
Doubles will be a key part of the lineup and Dick is working to find the right combination and chemistry to springboard OBU to a strong season.
"Finding the right combination of tennis ability, personality and competitive chemistry between two players, I believe, is the key to success in doubles," Dick said. "Our fall season gave us an opportunity to look at a few different combinations and I think we've found a good formula for both men's and women's doubles for our upcoming Spring Schedule. We had some excellent doubles wins in the fall and I hope the performances of these teams will continue to improve."
Tyson Allard is the top returning Bison. He recorded seven wins last season and captains the 2005 squad.
"Tyson Allard continues to play a huge role as Captain," Dick said. "He demands 110 percent of himself and never gives less. He has a fantastic competitive attitude and works hard in practice and in matches."
The men will also draw from Caleb Potter, who will see more action this season.
"Caleb Potter, our team chaplain, also does a great job," said Dick. "He's great for morale through encouragement and his sense of humor. Being a state champion weight lifter, he has contributed significantly to our off-season conditioning programs as well."
For the women, three leaders are emerging.
"Lauren White is both our team captain and chaplain," said Dick. "She does a wonderful job of staying positive and encouraging the girls in addition to playing some of the greatest matches of her college career at the Heart of America Tournament this past fall.
"Christa Tjeerdsma and Kerri McNutt have also made great strides this year in competitive attitude and match performance. All three contribute significantly to recruiting efforts, representing OBU in a positive and Christ-like manner and providing input on performance improvement issues."
A deeper Bison team could push the competitive level within the team, which ideally results in a better gameday performance.
"On the men's team, one of our strengths is our depth," said Dick. "Any player could play any position on any given day."
For the women, handling the pressure is a key to success.
"This past fall, the ladies were always able to raise their level of play under the pressure of a close match," Dick said. "This calm under pressure will be the key to their success in the spring. What I see as the greatest strength in both teams is everyone's ability to get along and work together. They think of each other as extended family. Both men's and women's tennis socialize with each other outside of practice and matches. They sit together for meals in the cafeteria; they have Bible studies once a week together, they arrange time to study together and help each other out in understanding class work when a teammate is struggling. They truly care about each other."
The teams, Dick said, maximize each others potential on and off the court.
"Our teams strive to bring out the best that is in each of us whether it is on the court during a match, in practice, in class, or in just being a decent caring human being," she said. "When new recruits visit OBU for the first time to try out for the tennis team, this atmosphere of camaraderie is something each of them has commented on and expressed a desire to be a part of. Win or lose, OBU Tennis teams are a class act...true champions of character on and off the court."