The 5-0 loss against Florida Tech this past Saturday marked the end of the 2014-2015 season for the women’s tennis team. Overall, the Spartans finished with a winning record of 10-9, which ranks them at 45th nationally.
Although their overall record was 10-9, the team finished with a 1-7 record within the Sunshine State Conference (SSC), their only win being against Eckerd. This record hurt their chances of making it into conference tournament.
“This is the toughest tennis conference in the nation,” said head coach Al DeFaux. “And if you look at the schools that we lose to, they’re top 10 in the nation.”
DeFaux believes that six of the top teams in the nation are in this conference, which makes it difficult for the team because only six teams make it into conference playoffs.
Last season, the conference took eight out of the nine schools to playoffs but lowered that number for this season.
“Not getting to the conference is very sad for us,” said junior marketing major Kristen Mee. “We really started off slow in the beginning of the season and we picked it up towards the end but it was a little too late.”
Rollins and Florida Southern were two schools the Spartans had the possibility of beating to increase their chances of making it to playoffs. The 3-6 loss came from two third set tie breakers. According to DeFaux, if the Spartans won those matches they would have won 5-4.
“It was really unfortunate,” Mee said about the match against Florida Southern on April 7. “We had some injuries and some sickness which kind of hit us at the wrong time.”
Mee explained that the match against Rollins on April 9 was similar because players were still injured or sick. She said the players fought hard and battled through the match but fell short during the tie breakers.
Things turned around for the team on April 15 at home against Eckerd when they beat their opponent 8-1. Seniors Kelsey Matthews and Jenelle Morgan also celebrated senior day since this win marked the last home match of their undergraduate careers at UT.
Morgan finished with a 15-3 record for the season while Matthews finished 13-4, according to tampaspartans.com.
“Those will be hard to replace,” DeFaux said about losing the two seniors. “That’s two people I can count on to win . . . so somebody has to step up and match those records.
For next season, four freshmen signed for the UT women’s tennis team and four players will be returning from this past season.
“Hopefully us four returning can be a good role model for them,” Mee said.
Palm Beach Atlantic and Embry-Riddle are also being added to the SSC next season, which DeFaux said will make it harder since the conference still only takes the top six teams to playoffs.
DeFaux’s goal for next season is to make it to conference playoffs, which is his number one goal for every season. He explained that increasing the number of schools in the SSC from nine to eleven will make it harder to reach his goal, but he believes in his team.
“It gets even tougher, but I think we’ll have a good shot at making it to playoffs,” DeFaux said.
Ann Marie Distasi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org