HISTORY: St. Norbert men's tennis brings home first conference title in 85 years

HISTORY: St. Norbert men's tennis brings home first conference title in 85 years
Posted at 8:58 PM, Apr 21, 2023

DE PERE — The St. Norbert men’s tennis team had its first season way back in 1937-1938.

85 years ago.

This past weekend Green Knights accomplished a first in program history.

“I think it's still sinking in that they’ve done something that no one else has been able to do,” said head coach John Steckart, who is in his first full year coaching the program.

Last weekend, the Green Knights crushed Marion University 9-0 to clinch their first NACC title in school history.

“If you told me that we would win a conference title, I would have been like really? I would have been like kind of skeptical of it,” said freshman Brett Daniels.

“We couldn’t really believe that this had been the first time since 1936, or 1937, we were just surprised and happy to be the first,” said junior David Vandenberg.

Steckart expected to have success this year, but he thought an NACC title would come next year.

“My goal was as a coach next year was to get a conference title, but thanks to the hard work of these kids, we got here a year early so it’s really great,” he said.

The players bought into his program right away.

“Coach Steckart brings awesome leadership,” said grad student Anthony Michels. “We’ve had so much more discipline in practice. We’ve had to be a little bit more on our toes, but we’ve had a lot of fun with it. We’ve had great practices, great matches and it’s been a really great atmosphere.”

But for Steckart, his players make his life pretty easy.

“These kids have bought in big and they're also a quality bunch of kids – with those things, the coaching part becomes very easy,” said the head coach.

The players on the other hand, expected to be at or near where they finished the regular season and they were driven by preseason rankings.

“We knew as a team that we had the potential to go in the top 1,2,3 in the conference,” said Michels. “We were ranked 5th before the season started in the preseason rankings and we kind of kept that in our minds when we played this season and we kind of had that underdog mentality this season and took it to our advantage.”

Now, they’re the underdogs no more and have changed the standard for the program.

“It’s really cool to kind of set the standard, but now we can’t be the underdogs anymore, right? Now, it’s time for us to keep moving forward and be at the top of the rankings,” said Michels.

St. Norbert begins the NACC tournament next Thursday as they look to make their way to the NCAA tournament.