Mike Barrett, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – With the Lake Superior State men's tennis team making a push to qualify for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time since 2011, junior Joe Gilman has helped lead the way for the Lakers.
Playing at No. 1 singles, Gilman has recorded a 5-1 record in GLIAC play and has been instrumental to the Lakers' 3-3 conference record. He is on a five-match winning streak in singles that began with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Grand Valley State's Sebastian Lescoulie on March 23 as Lake Superior State defeated Grand Valley State for the first time since March 21, 2010.
"Joe has improved greatly over the past year, which has led to his improved record at the No. 1 singles position," tennis head coach Luke Ogren said. "He is a good example for our young team because he is going to give us a shot to win no matter who he is playing."
Gilman's play, along with the strong performance of his teammates, has the Lakers sitting in sixth place in the GLIAC standings and with a chance to clinch a berth in the GLIAC Men's Tennis Tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 season. The Lakers are in control of their playoff destiny as they can earn a spot in the tournament with a home win over either Ashland or Wayne State this weekend.
A finance and economics major, Gilman was drawn to Lake Superior State by many things, including the size of the university, the opportunity to continue playing tennis and close interactions with his instructors.
"I personally prefer a small campus over a large campus," he explained. "Lake State immediately drew me in on my very first visit for that reason. On top of that, I was given an awesome opportunity to continue playing a sport I love with teammates who really care about each other. They were super nice to me on my visit and made me immediately feel like I was a part of their team."
"On my visit, I was also able to meet with Robert Boston, an assistant professor in the Lukenda School of Business," Gilman added. "I loved not only what he had to say, but the type of person he is. After just one visit, I felt like I belonged at Lake State and that feeling of belonging is ultimately what brought me here."
Originally a marketing major, the native of Holt, Michigan shifted gears slightly after his freshman year.
"It was not until my sophomore year that I decided to switch to finance and economics, simply because I found it to be more interesting to me personally," he explained. "I love dealing with investments and managing money, which made finance a perfect fit for me."
Gilman was complimentary of his instructors when talking about his favorite aspects of finance and economics. He said his professors care about their students and want to see them succeed.
"The ability to easily communicate and seek help from my professors is definitely the most enjoyable part of my program," he said. "The concepts that my classmates and I learn in finance can be quite difficult, so having the ability to send an email asking for help, or even just speaking to my professor after class, makes me really appreciative of what this school can offer in terms of support for students."
In addition to majoring in finance, Gilman is minoring in accounting, which he pointed out is very closely related to finance. "I feel that accounting is a really good complement to finance and will make me more competitive when searching for a job in the near future," he said.
An athlete, who played baseball growing up, Gilman discovered tennis as a teenager and fell in love with the sport.
"Once I discovered tennis, there was no turning back," Gilman said. "I love it more and more every single day."
Gilman has improved on the tennis court in each of his three years at Lake Superior State.
During his freshman year, Gilman played at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles, partnered with Ieuan Lister. The next year, he moved up to No. 1 singles, and was situated at No. 3 doubles, playing with Seth Pinnoo and Peter Summers at different times throughout the season. He has remained at No. 1 singles this year, and is now in the No. 1 doubles pairing with freshman Krishan Taneja.
"Joe is an extremely hard worker — giving 100% with everything he does," Ogren said. "He is always willing to go above and beyond by putting in a lot of extra work outside of practice."
With their two final home matches against GLIAC foes Ashland and Wayne State, Gilman and the Lakers can qualify for the 2019 GLIAC Men's Tennis Tournament with a win in either match. This season has seen some key victories, including a 7-0 win over Michigan Tech and a 4-3 win against Grand Valley State. The Lakers' three conference wins this season are their most since 2013-14. They last won four conference matches in a season in 2009-10.
"I think our main focus as a team right now is making the GLIAC Tournament," said Gilman. We have had a couple of really solid conference wins over Grand Valley State and Michigan Tech, so we are hoping to carry that momentum into the final weekend of our conference season. It has been quite some time since LSSU men's tennis has made the GLIAC Tournament, but I truly believe that this team has the talent, work ethic, and the hope to make the tournament this year."
The final home matches of the season are today against Ashland and tomorrow (Sunday) against Wayne State at the Arbuckle Student Activities Center. The matches begin at 10 a.m. and admission is free of charge.
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