When the 2020 MIAA coaches preseason rankings for Northwest tennis were released, both the men and women sat in strong positions.
The men are predicted to win the north division over conference foe, Washburn. The women’s team is predicted to finish second in their respective divisions. The women got a few first-place votes by the other coaches in the league but were edged out by Central Oklahoma with a five-vote difference.
For the men, Northwest is followed by Washburn, Newman and Emporia State. The Bearcats, of course, lead all MIAA foes in the north division. The south division, which is made up of GAC teams, is led by Southeastern Oklahoma State.
The makeup of the men’s rankings is compiled of two divisions because of the lack of tennis programs in the area. Along with that, the composition of the two conferences coming together broadens the competition that the Bearcats could face, which could serve well when it comes to the postseason.
As for the women, their rankings were composed of only teams from the MIAA. The thing that separated the Bearcats from Washburn and Northeastern State was seven votes.
The results for both teams, coach Mark Rosewell said, aren't too far off from his own idea.
“The preseason polls seem accurate to me,” Rosewell said. “We have been working hard since the second week of school. We had a good fall this past year, and we are going to get in shape and get all of the hitting time in that we can before we get outside and start matches here in a couple weeks.”
The women, Rosewell said, have a tall task in front of them. The Bearcats aren’t going against a team that was voted to the top of the conference, they’re going against a team that proved it should be there with an appearance in the National Quarterfinals a season ago.
With that, the men are looking over to the opposing division for stout competition.
“The toughest team this season on the women’s side is going to be Central Oklahoma, who won the league last year where they got to the top eight and we got to the top 16,” Rosewell said. “For the men, it will be the schools in Oklahoma and Arkansas in the south division.”
The season ahead presents challenges for the tennis team. Accompanying those challenges are things that Rosewell is looking forward to. One of those things is getting back into the season itself.
“We always get excited about the season this time of year because the weather is starting to get better, so we can start getting out and playing,” Rosewell said. “Once we get to March, we will be outside practicing.”
Northwest starts its season Feb. 28 against William Jewel in Liberty, Missouri. The matchup with the Cardinals, in some ways, will serve as a measuring stick for the two teams that sit toward the top of their rankings, respectively.