By DANA REYNOLDS – STAFF WRITER
After a successful trip to Hilton Head over spring break, the Women’s Tennis team has come back ready to leave a mark in the Conference championships in Murfreesboro, TN.
Sophomore Casey Blair felt as though spring break was a turning point for the team.
“I think that spring break was one of the biggest highlights of the season,” she said. “I feel like the team really bonded over a week of nonstop tennis. We all pushed as hard as we could against teams from all over and got a couple of wins.”
Although they fell slightly short of their goal to be in the top half of the conference throughout the regular season, the team is determined to finish the season strong.
According to Head Coach Matt Vonderbrink, the team really has an opportunity to place high in the conference. “Sewanee ladies are stronger than most other teams, but it is a jumble everywhere else,” he said. “Every point is going to matter.”
First-year Kate Tomey also emphasized the importance of every point in the Conference Championship. “The teams are fairly equal across the board in the conference,” she said. “There is very little difference in between the second team in conference and the seventh team, meaning that every conference match matters.”
The team was young this season, with eleven new players. Figuring out the correct lineup for everyone on the team provided some difficulties, but Vonderbrink emphasized that he has definitely seen improvement in his younger players.
“There were some growing pains associated with this season,” he said. “[But] I think that we have pretty good depth. I think that our main weakness is just match experience. Hopefully we are going to gain some of that through this year.”
According to first-year Courtney DeLong, college tennis has been a great experience for her so far, due to the attitude of the team.
“College tennis is different in that it seems to have more of a team spirit,” DeLong said. “In high school, the team only played together during tennis season. In college, we practice together all year round and are competing together instead of individually. We cheer for all of our teammates.”
The team will graduate only two players after this season: seniors Kathryn Hays and Maddie Pitt. Hays has been recognized as a First Team All-Southern Athletic Association performer and an All-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference performer.
She also recorded the most singles and doubles wins on the team in 2011. Pitt has had a remarkable senior season, starting sixth in the line-up and inching her way up to snatching the third spot. She has a 10-3 record for this season.
In 2012, Pitt was also named to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference’s All-Sportsmanship Team. DeLong commented that the seniors were a great asset to the team. “It is going to be really rough losing them,” she said.
The team is waiting to hear from possible players for next season. They will be announcing their decisions by today, May 1, though the team just recently had a young woman commit from the Cincinnati area.
“We will be losing our number-one player,” said Vonderbrink. “We need players who will come in and play at the top of the line-up.”