The Collegian
Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Women's tennis sends top players to regionals

Collegian Reporter

The women's tennis team will face an early-season challenge this week as it competes in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Regional Championships in Philadelphia.

This is the third tournament of the fall season for the Spiders and it is the most high-profile tournament they have competed in this season, coach Mark Wesselink said.

The East Region is made up of 80 teams that send their best players to the regional, he said.

"It's very much an individual event," Wesselink said. "The top players are really the ones who compete there."

The tournament has 64 players competing to make it to the national championship next weekend, he said. The Spiders will face players from some Atlantic Coast Conference and Ivy League schools.

Senior Pamela Duran and junior Erin Clark will compete for the Spiders this weekend, Wesselink said. Other players on the team have a chance to make the tournament by playing in qualifying matches, he said.

"We will hopefully have five girls going for the main draw and qualifiers and that's a bigger number than last year," sophomore Kelly Tidwell said. "I think we have a really good shot as a team of doing really well."

The team is much more talented overall than in the past, Wesselink said.

"The teams we play that have this kind of depth are usually nationally ranked, [they] are from the ACC or SEC," he said. "In the past we've been OK, but it hasn't really been a strength of ours."

The team is deep this season because the freshmen have contributed right away, Wesselink said.

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"The new players have really come in really strong," he said. "I've been really impressed the way they've competed, and the way they've worked and fit in with the team. They've done everything really well, which is going to be huge."

Duran has high expectations as she heads to Philadelphia, she said.

"I've been playing very well," she said. "I expect to show that on the court. I expect to have some good results."

Duran will compete in the tournament for the third time during her collegiate career. Her past experience at the ITA Regionals will be a big help, she said.

"You know the players, you know how to play against some people," she said. "I know how this works so I can just go out and play with confidence."

Duran said she saw this as the most important tournament of the fall. The tournament is a test of endurance. If a player competes in doubles as well as singles she could potentially play three matches during one day, Duran said. A lot of matches are what the players need, she said.

"It's a lot of seeded rounds, so you have to have your energy up," Duran said.

The team has become close-knit and is focused on the season, Wesselink said.

"It's a pretty diverse group in a lot of ways and they don't sweat the small stuff so far and they really focus on the important things and team is the most important thing."

The freshmen have given Duran and Wesselink high hopes for the dual-match season that begins in January.

"In all my four years, we've never had such a strong start, so it was really great to see that," Duran said.

Wesselink said: "There's a lot of parity on the team this year and that is going to create some problems for our opponents."

The increased depth should help the team clinch matches against tough opponents, which will get the Spiders a higher ranking, Tidwell said.

Wesselink agreed.

"The thing that everyone is excited about is that we have such a great recruiting class," he said. "As long as we keep our priorities straight they should really do well"

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