BY KINSEY HISLE – COPY CHIEF
The Women’s Tennis team began their season against stiff Division II competition, but is currently 2-3 for their season so far.
The women began their season during CentreTerm break in Orlando, FL with two matches against the Southeastern University Fire and the Florida Institute of Technology Panthers. The team lost both matches, but their lone victory came from the doubles team of juniors Abby Tudor and Kimberly Randall who were 8-6 winners against Southeastern. The experience of beginning their season early in the warm weather of Florida was a beneficial training and bounding opportunity for the team to kick start their season.
“My favorite part of the season so far has been being able to travel again with my teammates. We went to Florida for CentreTerm break and have traveled to Sewanee so far. I just love spending time with my team on and off of the court,” junior Casey Blair said.
The Colonels played their regular season opener against the Bellarmine University Knights, but fell 9-0. However, their next match against the Piedmont Lions in neutral Sewanee was their biggest success of their season at this time and a memorable moment for veteran players.
The Colonels began the match with a 3-0 lead from their doubles matches. Tomey and first-year Aliza Williams won 8-0 the first match and Tudor and sophomore Molly McElvogue won 8-6 in the second. Blair and sophomore Courtney Delong completed the sweep by winning 8-2 in the third match. The Women’s team singles also swept the competition. Williams, Tomey, Delong, McElvogue, sophomore Mary Chapin Snow, and Randall in order of their matches all won their singles matches.
Their first match against an SAA conference team was against the Sewanee Tigers but the Colonels fell 7-2. However, their victories are celebrated by the growing team.
“Even though we have a losing record, it is shaping up to be a winning year. For example, we played the number 1 team in the conference who last year beat us 9-0. This year however we won 2 matches, which was more matches than what the #2 team last year had against Sewanee (Berry [College] lost to Sewanee 8-1),” Tomey said.
Williams participated in both of Centre’s victories against Sewanee winning her singles match and then teaming with Tomey to win their doubles match.
“My favorite part of the season so far has been Aliza’s and my win against the #1 doubles team of Sewanee. They are usually considered the top doubles team and to be them in a close match was honestly not only the highlight of this season but my tennis career so far at Centre,” Tomey said.
Williams was the lone Colonel victor in the next match on February 28 against Division II opponent University of Charleston MoHarv. This match came after a two week layoff due to snow. The Colonels fell 8-1 to the MoHarv.
Williams is one of the young players who are a foundational stronghold for the team. Over half of the Women’s team as a whole is sophomores and first-years. Jenna Hazlewood is the lone senior. The team is developing their experience level as a whole to improve this season and as a program in the future.
“We have a wonderful new addition to the team named Aliza Williams who is a freshmen who plays #1 singles and also plays doubles with me at #1 doubles.,” Tomey said. “We are a fairly young team compared to the other teams in the conference, and so this is the year for us to connect and be prepared for the next couple of years.”
“We have a lot of returning double’s teams, so this is an excellent opportunity for these teams to grow together and figure out what didn’t work last year so that they can improve on it this year,” junior Abby Tudor said.
Rebuilding the team after the loss of veterans last year and the stiff Division II competition the women faced in their first few matches of the season are challenges the team is working hard to overcome.
“We’ve only play 5 or so matches and the majority have been against Division II schools so it’s definitely been challenging. We are figuring out a team dynamic with so many girls leaving last year but so far we have had a great time,” Blair said.
“I believe that once we are able to get through playing these teams outside of our division, we will be able to see better results. I expect both teams will pick up more wins later on in the season as we begin to play other school in our division and conference,” Tudor said.
The team picked up their second win on March 7 against Johnson University with a 9-0 sweep. All three doubles matches by Tomey/Williams, Delong/Blair, and Tudor/Randall won with scores of 8-0. All six women then went on to sweep their singles matches. The Colonels also swept the St. Catharine College Patriots with a 9-0 final score on March 18. These matches are more progressive steps toward the Colonels’ ultimate goals for the season.
“I think the goal for our team is to get stronger on and off of the court. Not only do we want to improve our skills and be successful as a team on the court but our dynamic off of the court is just as important to us.”
The stronger team dynamic will help the Women’s team to reach their goals for this season and those in coming years.
“I believe the goal of the women’s team is to be #2 in the conference, and to develop as a whole team to be ready to be a contender for the conference title in the next few years,” Tomey said.
As a part of hitting their targets, the coaches are emphasizing physical conditioning in addition to team unity.
“Apart from girls leaving and new girls joining the team, this year has been different because we have really stepped up the pace of our condition during practice. It’s difficult but very rewarding. Our coaches really want our endurance up for our matches,” Blair said.
“We want to have some depth in the team. The top two are really good but everyone has a personal goal of getting better this year,” senior Jenna Hazlewood said. “My personal goal is to be more aggressive when I play and get in the net more. I feel like the coaches are trying more this year to have us be more aggressive and an offensive team, especially in doubles. In the past we have been a defensive team as baseline hitters. We are trying to hit volleys as winners. With the doubles, he is trying to make them more cohesive and play more together off their strengths.”
Women’s tennis will travel to Transylvania University for their next match on March 21.