Posted by Andrew Shi After winning the Liberty League Championship last year, the women's tennis team is preparing to begin their journey to victory once again, although with a drastically reshaped team, a repeat championship is no certainty.
Practices at the Saratoga Regional YMCA Wilton Branch have been rigorous. After a break from the autumn games which left them with two wins, the team is now back to finding their rhythm. "So far for practice we've been just getting back into competitive modes and figuring out our singles and doubles lineup. A lot of our practices are live point play and drills mixed in with some practice matches against each other. We also concentrate on conditioning at this time of the season," Head Coach Curt Speerschneider said.
Skill and stamina are only part of the workout that Coach Speerschneider is addressing however. With four new freshmen on the team of 10 this year, the total count of underclassmen is seven. "Double teams and chemistry are several of the things we try to figure out early on," Coach Speerschneider said. "It really comes down to everyone having the personal responsibility to work hard and make sure they're being good teammates."
On top of a team that is still familiarizing itself, the freshmen are also busy assimilating into the competitiveness of college tennis. "The freshmen and sophomores still have a bit to learn in terms of working hard 100 percent of the time. They're still inexperienced of the rigors of the season and the fact that they can't give less than 100 percent for a single practice or match," Coach Speerschneider said.
Still, Coach Speerschneider remains optimistic. "Our captains are the best group of leaders I've had in a long time. They understand exactly what it takes and are willing to go the extra mile for the success of the team," Coach Speerschneider said.
Coach Speerschneider is also very impressed with the raw talent of the new class. "Our freshmen are very talented, which gives us the most depth we've had since I've been here." Captain Tory Engros '12 agrees on this thought. "this year's team is the strongest it's ever been because of the freshmen, as well as one sophomore transfer. Whatever our lineup is, we can count on each one of them. After their impressive performance in the fall, they can't be considered "rookies" anymore!" Engros also is impressed with the team's depth "One of our biggest strengths is the team's depth. Technically we have a line-up, but we are all good players and can be depended on to play any position."
As for Saturday's game against William Smith, Coach Speerschneider expects a win to start the season off well. "William Smith is a solid team, but we should be able to control the match if we're working hard and playing how we should." For the rest of the season Coach Speerschneider expects similar results. "We went 9-0 with some weaker teams in the fall, so our spring schedule is going to be a lot tougher as we start playing some regionally and nationally ranked teams. We should win the majority of them, but we need to be ready for them," Coach Speerschneider said.
Engros acknowledges as well that there will be some challenging games coming up this season but is confident in this new team's potential. "I'm very confident that we can win our second-straight Liberty League championship. Not only has our successful fall season proven what this team can do, but also our tough spring schedule will prepare us well for Liberty Leagues," Engros said.
The women's tennis team challenges William Smith at 1p.m., on Saturday at home.