SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.— We caught up with Men's and Women's Tennis Head Coach Luke Ogren to discuss the upcoming season, how he plans on building on the strides both teams made last year and this year's incoming class.
Q: You are entering your fourth season in your role as Lake State's Tennis Head Coach. How does having that familiarity with the program and the players help you as a coach?
A: I think being familiar with the program really helps with recruiting and getting the most out of each athlete we get here.
Q: The 2018-19 season saw both the men's and women's teams qualify for the GLIAC's for the first time since the 2009-10 season. How exciting are those kind of accomplishments for you as a coach?
A: Making the conference tournament was always our main focus when I was a player here, so I was extremely proud of all my athletes. It really showed that they have bought in and expect to get better every year.
Q: How important is it to the program to have not one but both teams qualify and compete at the GLIAC's?
A: Having both teams qualify is very beneficial for our teams. When recruits are looking at a school they will always check how well you've done in the past. It's nice for them to be able to see the big jumps we have already made.
Q: With that being said, how do you look to build on that previous success going into a new season?
A: We have a lot more talent on both sides this year and will be looking to get closer to the next step of making the NCAA tournament. It is a big goal but not outside of our reach.
Q: The women's season is set to begin and you have a young team with AlexiAnn Drouin leading the way as a junior. The other two returners from last season's team are sophomores Nadege Koua and Keegan Malpass. Drouin was named to the All-GLIAC 1st team last year and Koua was All-GLIAC 2nd team. What do you expect from them this year?
A: We are going to have a very talented women's team that will really have the potential to keep our steady improvement going. They all improved a lot last Spring and will look to have a big year in 2019-20.
Q: What can you tell us about the incoming class for the women's team?
A: We have two Division 1 transfers, Milena Baigorria and Muskaan Ranjan, from UTEP and Savannah State respectively. Riley Gilman is an incoming freshman who will look to make a difference in the lineup as well. Milena is a lefty that is very quick on the court and will be a force in doubles. Muskaan has a good all around game and will be looking at having a strong year after having to play at the top of the lineup at her previous school. Riley is extremely talented and will make big improvements throughout the year. She can be a big player in the lineup for us right away.
Q: Senior Joe Gilman and Sophomore Krishan Taneja were both named to the 2019 All-GLIAC Men's Tennis Team with Gilman earning 1st team honors and Taneja earning 3rd team honors. What can we look for from the men's team this season from players like Gilman and Taneja as well as other key returners?
A: Joe and Krishan will be returning and both had strong summer tournament play. Ali Sahibzada, Harris Irfan ul Haq and Diego Penz are all returning from last year's lineup as well. We are really excited to make the trip to ITA's with the men to see where we stand in the region. Being able to return this much talent should give us a good shot at reaching GLIAC's again and put us in the mix for the national tournament as well.
Q: There are two freshmen joining the men's team this year. Can you tell us a little about them and what you expect from them?
A: Juho Kantola is going to be a big impact player for us right away. I expect him to be a top 3 player right away. He has a huge serve and loves to be aggressive. Viktor Vlasov is a really young freshman that has already made big strides in his first couple weeks. He has a chance to be in the lineup for the Spring as well.