Ram Seniors Look to Top Off Historic Careers
Ram Tennis players Alex Chekal and Sam Lauritsen are heading into their Senior seasons with great confidence after their team lost in the final four just a year ago. Both Chekal and Lauritsen will be four year tennis starters after this season. After three years their Glenwood Teams have a combined record of 28-6, won two district titles (2015,2016), won a conference championship, qualified for individual state, and were 1 and 2 on the fourth place team in the state.
Hard work and dedication has paid off for these two student athletes. I’m sure if anyone has driven by the high school tennis courts over the last three years, Alex or Sam were out there working on their craft. Last season Alex and Sam qualified for the individual state tournament in doubles. The two have played doubles together over the last three years and work well together. After being disappointed with their performances at the state tournament the boys began training for their Senior seasons a day after the 2016 season finished. The two got five other Rams to join them in a summer tennis program where they would practice twice a week and play matches on Friday’s in Omaha. There has only been a couple of practices in the 2017 season but I can already tell their hard work is paying off. Both Chekal and Lauritsen have stepped their game up to the next level.
I’ve had the privilege of coaching both Alex and Sam over the last three seasons and I can tell you their individual accomplishments mean nothing to them compared to their team. The two talented Seniors are great role models on and off the court. Team players are the words that come to mind when I talk about both Chekal and Lauritsen. Whether you are a first year player or a four year starter Alex and Sam enjoy helping their teammates get better. With limited court time and coaches both Alex and Sam take time out of their day to help teammates with their forehand, serves or whatever just to make their team better.
I recently sat down with the two Senior captains to discuss Glenwood’s up and coming tennis season.
What goals do you guys have individually for your senior season?
“Individually, my goals include: being #1 on the team, winning all regular season singles and doubles matches, and winning one match at individual state.” Sam Lauritsen
“My simplest/first individual goal would be to get revenge against opponents who beat me last year, but to also go undefeated in both singles and doubles throughout the regular season. Second off, I want to win myself a personal Hawkeye 10 championship. Following up the conference tournament, I would like to place in the top four at individual state this year in either singles or doubles. I realize that is a tall task but I believe preparation and the correction of mindset will allow me to compete in this years Individual State Tournament if I get the opportunity to battle it out.” Alex Chekal
Talk about your growth between your Freshman Year to your Senior Year?
“My freshman year I was like a young puppy just following my mom. In essence my mom was Joe Gunkleman, as I felt like part of the team but not the leader. Now, as a senior, I have confidence as I lead the team to new heights.” Sam Lauritsen
“Anybody that has watched me throughout my three years, coming on four, would say that there are parts of my game that have changed immensely, and other parts that have stayed fairly consistent. The biggest changes to my game have come through strategic maturity along with my recent change of mobility and net game. As a Freshman and Sophomore, I would find myself having a game in control, but I would slowly let the win slip through my fingers. With a few exceptions, this past season I have seen that trait diminish. This summer and fall I put in the off court work to improve my mobility, and I have already seen prove to be a game changing contribution for me” Alex Chekal
What goals do you guys have for the team this season?
“My goal for the season this year is for the team to be state champions. We have lofty expectations; however, I know that if we strive for the best we will excel this season.” Sam Lauritsen
“From a team standpoint, it is make it to the championship meet or bust. We are not going to just settle after placing 4th last year.” Alex Chekal
What is your favorite moment of your three years so far?
“My favorite moment thus far in my career was in Red Oak for Sub-state. We were competing against Boone to make it to the Final Four. The meet was at 4-3. At one point in the second set, we were losing to the #1 doubles team, and the #2 doubles team was also losing. Alex and I came back in the third set behind the electric atmosphere and building a boulder of momentum.” Sam Lauritsen
“There have been a lot of fantastic memories created by these last three years of tennis, but none stand out as much as the road to the final four last season. The meet against Boone in the "first round of state" was an electric atmosphere that I will never forget. I know I will remember my last tiebreaker serve that sealed the final four bid for the rest of my life.” Alex Chekal
What part of your game needs to improve to get to where you want to be?
“The most important aspect of my game that needs to improve is my mental focus. I need to gain confidence while continually improving my strokes from the back.” Sam Lauritsen
“So far this practice season I have seen one part of my game that sticks out like a sore thumb; that is my service game. My first serve has started to lack consistency, and I have seen an immense improvement in my second serve, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before the start of the season.” Alex Chekal