Trojans aiming for successful season

Will Schaufelberger | Contributor

Everyone knows what tennis is but only the dedicated follow it. This accurately describes Taylor University’s brand of tennis, as students may not perceive it to be one of the more popular sports on campus. Despite this, Taylor men’s tennis has become one of the most consistent athletic programs Taylor has to offer.

Taylor men’s tennis has been around since 1933 and was one of the first sports teams at Taylor. But only more recently has the men’s tennis team taken steps toward being one of the most successful teams at Taylor.

Between 2006 and 2013, Taylor men’s tennis posted six consecutive winning seasons and two conference championships with a combined record of 67–32. The Trojans have been down the last few seasons, but things are looking up after they began improving this past season.

“I think we can be really competitive in the conference this season because we did not lose any starters,” senior and co-captain Jon Forte said. “I think we have more experience now—we have had a full year to improve. And also, we have a freshman class that is really going to make an impact.”

The Trojans have a chance to make their season count in the Crossroads League this fall. For Forte and fellow seniors Chris Robbins, Juan Ramirez and Ruben Bedon, it is their last chance to play at the collegiate level.

Although players move on after their four years at Taylor, one thing has been a constant for quite some time—Don Taylor, who has been the men’s tennis head coach at Taylor for 21 years. Coach Taylor’s philosophies have stayed constant throughout his time with the team and have molded his players into better men both on and off the court.

“My time with Coach Taylor thus far has been great,” senior co-captain Chris Robbins said. “He knows the game of tennis extremely well, and it has been great learning from a man who values hard work and is a real man of integrity and of God.”

Forte said Coach Taylor leads team devotions and meetings, while also training players on the field. If players are working hard, Forte said, Coach Taylor will notice it. Coach Taylor said he has thoroughly enjoyed his time coaching at Taylor, which is a big reason why players have gotten so much out of their four years of tennis.

“It has been a great experience coaching at a Christian college where I can express and live my faith,” Taylor said. “It has also been great coaching young men who want to live and compete in a Christian community with a Christian leader.”

Coach Taylor is the life and face of the program, dedicating a significant amount of time both in and out of season to develop the program to where it is now. He has also helped raise funding for spring break trips and other activities for the team, said assistant coach and former player John Noble.

Taylor tennis focuses on pushing players out of their comfort zone, being mentally tough, stressing the importance of teamwork and challenging players to become friends with their teammates off the court.

The men’s tennis team is focused on winning matches and becoming better tennis players. However, that is not its main objective. Its ultimate goal is to serve others and become better men of Christ.

“Taylor tennis has taught me about looking beyond myself and looking to a common goal of a whole team,” Forte said, “Putting myself last and putting my team first, and saying, ‘Hey, I want to give everything I have even if I do not get to start,’ because that is what I believe it means to be a man of integrity.”

“Photograph provided by TU Sports Information Department”