Most college tennis teams in the Midwest get used to the fact that with inclement winter weather they have to be inside nearly five months of the year. For that reason, they feel more comfortable and play better indoors.
The IU men’s tennis team is an exception to this rule.
A lot of that has to do with IU coach Randy Bloemendaal. Now in his third year at the helm for the Hoosiers, Bloemendaal coached at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina before moving to Indiana. He loves the outdoors and the opportunities outdoor tennis offers his players.
He said most Big Ten teams would prefer to play the season indoors. Bloemendaal, however, has based his training program around outdoor tennis for years, and he said he feels that will give his Hoosiers a decisive advantage during this year’s conference season.
“I think the training shows up outside because of the way the points are constructed,” Bloemendaal said. “You get into the meat of the point, you get past the first exchange more often than you do indoors. You get rewarded indoors for a lot of things that don’t matter that much in tennis. It’s kind of a fluke. Outdoors, you have to go out and kind of work it more and then that training shows up an hour and a half to two hours into the match.”
The Hoosiers (9-3) have become so good outdoors that they have the ability to win on the road against teams that live in warm climates.
One example comes from last week’s match with then-No. 70 Central Florida. IU went into that match without a road win on the season. Central Florida had been playing well, steadily climbing in the rankings.
It was just the Hoosiers’ second outdoor match of the season. The Golden Knights had been practicing and playing out in the sun for months.
But because of the team’s comfort in the outdoor environment, the Hoosiers left with a 5-2 victory.
“I think we’re in better shape than most teams, and we’re also fully confident in ourselves,” junior Santiago Gruter said. “Some of those toughness drills that we do really show up outdoors because of the longer points, and that’s the main reason why I think we’ve been more successful outside.”
While Bloemendaal said he isn’t sure of his team’s record outdoors, he said he couldn’t recall a loss during the past two seasons.
IU has had its ups and downs this season, but Bloemendaal has never been overly concerned. He said his team’s depth will allow it to accomplish a lot of things and he believes his club will prove to the nation that it belongs in the upper tier during the outdoor season.
“We have eight or nine guys in singles that are playing at a level of being in the lineup now,” Bloemendaal said. “All of them are going to battle for spots at different points in the season. I think after this weekend, we’ll be right back in the rankings where we should have been at the beginning of the season.”