The women’s tennis season is in full swing as the Spartans are currently ranked forty-fifth nationally with an overall record of 5-5. Despite winning their first match of the season, they went on a five-match losing streak. However, they now seem to be back on track after winning their last four matches.
One of the obstacles the Spartans face every year is their strong conference, which features six of the top ten teams nationally. Many of their matches to this point have been against fellow Sunshine State Conference (SSC) teams, including top-ranked Barry, fifth-ranked Lynn and tenth-ranked Nova Southeastern. They had two very tight losses by the score of 5-4. One was at Palm Beach Atlantic, and the other was at forty first ranked Chestnut Hill, who had also beaten a top ten school. They are beginning to face some more beatable opponents now, according to Coach Al DuFaux.
“March is always a great month because we all the schools from up north that come down here on spring break,” said DuFaux. Well, March has already been a huge success, as the Spartans won 5-4 over Walsh, 9-0 over Minnesota State-Mankato, 9-0 over Charleston (WV) and 8-1 over Stonehill.
Junior transfer Kristen Mee has been leading the Spartans this season, playing first singles. She spent her first two years playing tennis at the University of Arkansas. Despite a rocky start for her team, she is remaining optimistic.
“We have a young team and we’re just getting the feel of working with each other,” said Mee. “We started off slow and we’re going to try to come together and figure it out, we’re all fighting.”
Team chemistry can be hard to build, especially for the Spartans who only have two players (out of six on the roster) who were on the squad last year. Mee also added that they have quickly become a pretty close-knit group.
Along with team chemistry, doubles is another integral part of college tennis. The Spartans have struggled in doubles, so they have been changing up the partnerships and experimenting with new pairings to try and better their chances in doubles play.
“Doubles is always the key to success in college tennis because you play doubles first, three doubles matches which gives you a huge advantage if you win those matches,” said DuFaux. It is beneficial that the Spartans have been keen to address this issue, as they are currently 0-9 in doubles matches (though 16-14 overall). How it works is that each doubles match contributes one point to the total score, so the doubles matches have the same worth as singles matches.
As mentioned earlier, the Spartans only have six girls on their team, which is the minimum for college tennis. Though it is tough to play with no substitutes, the Spartans are doing their best with what they have. Recruiting has also been going well according to DuFaux. With two graduating seniors on the team, another four players have already committed to join next season.
The next match for the Spartans will be March 18 at home against Texas A&M-Kingsville. They will then face Minnesota State-Moorhead on March 20 and Puerto Rico-Mayaguez March 24. UT will return to conference play March 26 at No.9 Rollins. After a few more matches they will round out regular season play in mid-April, and travel to Saint Leo for the SSC Tournament April 23-25, with hopes of continuing their postseason in the NCAA Tournament.
Andrew Stamas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org