The Collegian
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Women's tennis picked as A-10 preseason No. 1

The University of Richmond's women's tennis team has been picked to finish first in the Atlantic-10 Conference this spring.

The team has won the conference title the last two years, so senior Kelly Tidwell said it was no surprise to be ranked at the top again.

Richmond usually plays against only two to three conference teams during the regular season because head coach Mark Wesselink works hard to get the team good competition outside the A-10 conference, Tidwell said.

Wesselink said that this year's out-of-conference schedule features teams that are similar to Richmond in talent.

"We expect a lot of close matches," Wesselink said. "It will do a lot for toughening us up because there's nothing like playing under pressure."

In the fall, the team has tournaments and conditioning to get in shape. In the spring, Tidwell said the team plays dual matches and does more traveling.

"You really bond as a team," she said.

During winter break, the team kept up its training, Tidwell said. This spring, the team has started body pump classes and other on-court conditioning exercises, such as sprints, she said.

Wesselink said the team was working hard on its doubles right now and that he was happy with its progress.

"The team is deep and there's a lot of parity between players," Tidwell said. "We're always challenging each other. There's a really healthy competitiveness among most of the girls on the team."

The hardest thing this spring, Wesselink said, is to practice matches because they have to find a facility to play inside. The team has at times been forced to mix playing individual sets and drills.

Another challenge this spring is keeping players healthy, Wesselink said.

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The team lost 7-0 on Jan. 22 to the University of Virginia, a team that is constantly top in the country, Tidwell said.

They also lost 6-1 on Jan. 30 to Virginia Tech. The team was at a disadvantage, Tidwell said, because Virginia Tech's courts play faster than Richmond's, but it was still disappointing because they were expecting a better match, if not a win, she said.

"We always start off with our toughest matches at the very beginning," she said.

Tidwell said that the early losses have been a wake up call and that they will get the team revved up for the rest of the season.

"We won't let this happen again," she said.

The team plays William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., at 4 p.m. Feb. 4.

Contact staff reporter Sarah Craig at sarah.craig@richmond.edu

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