GREENVILLE – Greenville seniors Noah Haupt and Craig Manges both committed Tuesday evening to play collegiate tennis for Grace College.
Haupt, the son of Matt and Jonell Haupt, and Manges, the son of Brian and Diana Manges, said they had talked about attending college and playing collegiate tennis together. However, they ultimately both ended up choosing Grace independently following a visit together.
“We both visited there together and it just snapped,” Haupt said. “We were like, yeah, this is the place we need to be, think God is telling us to be there.”
From the first time he visited Manges said he knew Grace was the right fit.
“The first time I visited the college I really liked the atmosphere and the professors and just the way they treated me on campus,” he said. “It just felt right.”
Haupt also said it just felt right when he visited the campus in Winona Lake, Indiana.
“I visited there and the atmosphere was just perfect,” he said. “Everybody was really nice, and I just loved the beautiful campus, and that was really it. I got there and it just felt right. You can feel it.”
Grace is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and competes in the Crossroads League with schools from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan including Bethel College, Goshen College, Huntington University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Marian University, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Spring Arbor University, Taylor University and the University of Saint Francis.
Last fall Grace finished the season with a 4-6 overall record and a 4-4 record in the Crossroads League. The Lancers had one player, Danila Kurkulin, win the Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional championship and advance to the national ITA Oracle Cup as an individual, placing seventh in the nation.
Greenville boys tennis coach Dennis Kiser said he definitely will follow Haupt and Manges during their careers at Grace.
“I think it’s something special,” Kiser said of the duo committing to play college tennis. “I think they’ll really enjoy doing that. Hopefully they don’t stick to themselves, though, and they branch out and hit with other people, but I think they’ll do that; they’ll be fine.”
Manges and Haupt plan to room together during their freshman year at Grace.
“It’s amazing to be able to room with your best friend at the same college,” Haupt said. “I can’t wait to see what we do together off and on the court. It’s going to be awesome.”
Having a teammate he already knows will help make the transition to college easier, Manges said.
“That’s really cool,” he said. “It’s nice to know that from day one on the tennis team I’ll already have a friend and somebody that I can rally with.”
Since their sophomore year of high school Haupt and Manges were Greenville’s top two tennis players.
As a senior Haupt went 15-7 at first singles while Manges went 19-3 at second singles. They teamed up together during the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament and won the doubles sectional championship together.
“Both of those guys just love the game,” Kiser said. “They can do it all. They can serve. They can volley. They’re not as strong as probably they’re going to get. But great ground strokes. They’ll be just fine.”
Manges, who plans to study mechanical engineering, hopes to play well enough his freshman year to earn some playing time for the Lancers.
“First year it would be really cool to make top six or even just to get some match play in so the next couple years then I could play top few,” he said.
Haupt plans to study business and the management of information systems. His goal is to excel both academically and athletically.
“I just want to focus on my academics and just do well on academics,” he said. “And playing tennis, I want to see how that goes the first year and hopefully that goes well. On the tennis court and on the tennis court I just want to be the best I can be.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.