The women's tennis team, defending Atlantic 10 champions for the past two years, has completed its fall season, promising a competitive return next spring, when team competition begins.
Despite losing their top player to graduation last season, head coach Mark Wesselink hopes that the team will be stronger this year. Last spring, many players struggled through season-long injuries, so the team wasn't able to perform to its full potential.
"So far with the adjustments we've made to our fitness, conditioning and time off from tennis, it seems to have helped," Wesselink said. "We haven't had the injuries yet, so we're being superstitious and crossing our fingers. But right now it's so far, so good."
The tennis team has been doing pilates and yoga in order to cross-train.
"Our team had a lot of injuries last year, and this year we're working on more tactics to prevent us from being injured again," sophomore Sydney Grant said.
During the past two tournaments, the hard work has been rewarded. At the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va., Oct. 1-3, the Spiders dominated doubles play, with a record of 12-2, according to the athletics website.
This past weekend, in the opening day of competition at the Women's Atlantic Regional Tournament in Norfolk, Va., the team had a 6-0 record. The Spiders nabbed four wins in singles and two in doubles.
On the second day of competition, freshman Elizabeth Sims and junior Joanna Matuszczyk posted two singles wins each. Grant and Matuszczyk scored two doubles wins over the course of the tournament.
Grant said of her doubles partner and roommate, Matuszczyk: "We have kind of a different doubles strategy than most. We have good chemistry, so we just feel each other out on the court so we know what we're going to do. We have our own expectations of each other and it works well."
Wesselink said: "This year, we are surprisingly strong in doubles. If we can keep everybody intact we have three really strong teams."
Wesselink said he was suprised at the health of his players. He said that last season all of the players were healthy for only the first match of the spring.
Even with a healthy team, the Spiders will face tough competition in their conference.
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"Atlantic 10 this year is much stronger," Wesselink said. "It's the strongest it's ever been since we've been in it. So, it'll be tough to win again this year, but if we're healthy I think we can do it."
Grant and Matuszczyk agreed that their toughest competition would be the George Washington University, last year's runner-up in the A-10s, and Temple University.
"We'll just have to keep working, and hopefully we can defend what we did last year," Grant said.
The Spiders will continue training on a limited schedule throughout the off-season. The regular season will begin on Jan. 22 at the University of Virginia.
The spring season will bring team play, as opposed to individual play in the fall. Grant said she enjoyed the spring season more because all of the players were working together toward their goals.
"Everybody likes the spring season more," Wesselink said. "With the fall, there are some benefits because the weather is great. But really we miss the team aspect, and that's our strength this year."
Contact reporter Julie Crandell at email@example.com
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