MVP of the Issue: the evolution of Andre Glass

Danny Spatchek, Sports Editor

Evolution is a fair way to describe Andre Glass’ development as a tennis player. Evolution on speed might be more appropriate.

In his five-plus years of playing competitive tennis, Andre Glass has gone from a scrawny kid, awkwardly pushing tennis balls around his hometown Kenosha courts with his grandpa, to the No. 1 singles player on Lakeland College’s men’s tennis team. Glass is already the owner of two Northern Athletics Conference (NAC) Player of the Year awards and is a three-time conference champion.

Dartanian Taylor, one of Glass’ best friends and teammates on this year’s team, saw Glass playing recreationally and convinced him to join the team at Tremper High School. Unbeknownst to Taylor at the time was that he had discovered the player who would become one of the most dominant tennis players in NAC history and a person who would become his best friend.

“Andre joined the team and was immediately successful,” remembers Taylor of the high school Glass, who is two years younger than Taylor. “Andre wasn’t as consistent of a player at Tremper as he is now. He’s always had raw, God-given talent and that’s what he used to win in high school.”

Glass accepted Taylor’s label of his high school skill set.

“In high school, I was a pusher,” Glass admits with a sheepish grin, sitting at the table of his unusually quiet apartment. “I was much more tentative and liked to play it safe.”

But Glass couldn’t play tentatively for long as both he and Taylor soon entered the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and began playing matches against opponents who were markedly more experienced than they were. The quality opponents Glass faced in USTA tournaments forced him to adapt quickly, and although Glass never won a tournament, he reached the semifinals several times and gained experience that has been instrumental to his currently confident style of play.

“I don’t try to hit winners as much as I should,” says a slightly irritated Glass, apparently on the verge of leaping out of his seat to correct the aspect of his game that oftentimes has his opponents throwing their racquets to the court in frustration. “My backhand is a more natural shot and the one I usually attack with.”

The NAC’s No.1 singles players have witnessed Glass’ overwhelming topspin shots firsthand for the past three-and-a-half years in which Glass has accumulated a 23-1 record. Glass’ lone defeat came during his freshman year at the hands of Concordia Wisconsin’s Ira Meiling.

“Ira was a senior and hadn’t lost his entire college career,” says Glass as he recalls the duel, one he lost 2-6, 3-6. “I knew he was a good player, but I was expecting somebody better and I knew I could beat him after that match.”

In the conference tournament, Glass dismantled Meiling 6-4, 6-1, putting a one on the backside of his previously unblemished conference record.

With three conference singles championships under his belt and the NAC favorite to win a fourth, Lakeland’s senior captain has set his sights higher—towards team success at the conference tournament.

“This year, we have a full roster and everybody on the team is dedicated and wants to improve,” says Glass. “I think we have more of a shot than the previous years to actually do some damage in the tourney.”

Doron Green, Glass’ coach for the past two seasons and the only tennis player in Lakeland College’s Hall of Fame, believes Glass possesses the necessary qualities, and then some, to lead this year’s team to a previously unknown level of success.

“Number one, he’s a natural athlete. And number two, he’s in tremendous physical shape,” comments Green in a tone suggesting that Glass’ laundry list of superlatives could go on for days. “He hits every shot as though he’s in the match of his life, and that quality is what makes him an outstanding tennis player.”

But Glass’ evolution hasn’t been without the occasional growing pain.

While roughhousing with a friend in his junior year, Glass sprained his right thumb, causing it to swell to twice its normal size, preventing him from gripping his racquet. Glass improvised to keep himself on the court against Lakeland’s next opponent, Concordia Chicago.

“I had to hit a two-handed forehand and two-handed volley,” explains Glass, chuckling at the thought of his temporary handicap. “It was an uncomfortable day because I had to use the same grip for every shot.” Glass cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

More crippling than Glass’ injury to his right thumb in 2009 was the loss of his grandpa, the first person to play tennis with him. Unruffled, Glass traveled to Kenosha for the funeral and returned to Kohler Sports Core moments before the start of the Muskie’s match against Aurora, in which he calmly dispatched Aurora’s dumbfounded No. 1 6-1, 6-1.

Without his grandpa watching for the first time in the NAC final, Glass won a narrow three-setter 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 against uber-talented MSOE freshman Juan Montenegro, an international student. This season, Montenegro has played in the No. 2 spot—replaced by another international student from Germany, Thomas Noebhert. Undaunted, Glass feels his game has reached new heights this season.

“I think I’ve improved over the year, too. As long as I do my best, and win, hopefully, I’ll be happy,” says Glass. “I know I still have the upper hand because I’m experienced in the conference tournament.”

Already the owner of virtually every accolade available in NAC tennis, Glass’ curtain call will almost certainly come in the form of induction into Lakeland College’s Hall of Fame—an event the Hall’s sole player representative of tennis looks forward to.

“I think he will be the second tennis player in the Lakeland Hall of Fame,” Green said. “I want that for him.”

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