Tennis

Women’s tennis team ready to compete with new team

Women's tennis team ready to compete with new team

The Ithaca College women’s tennis team is hard at work preparing for the start of their next season. This will be his first full season since releasing in 2019, which means there are plenty of new faces ready to compete for the first time.

Of the 15 players on the roster, six are freshmen, but there’s still the necessary grassroots leadership from the rest of the team’s upper classes. The team finished the shortened eight-game Spring 2021 season at 2–6 but expects much better results this year, especially after promising pre-season practices.

Chris Hayes ’16, head coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams, said he was delighted the season was starting and had aspirations for every player on the talent roster. He recognizes the new talents in the team and the necessary work the team needs to do to keep improving.

“We have a really strong women’s group,” Hayes said. “Many upper classes, a great freshman class, as well as one of the biggest rosters we’ve had in recent memory.

Juniors Rebecca Andrews and Zoe Davis, the team captains, said they were very impressed with the new members and their ability to adapt to the college level during the offseason and early weeks of practice. During the winter break, the team was able to build chemistry on and off the pitch, whether that was enjoying team dinners or dueling for fun in practice matches.

“It’s a really great vibe we have right now,” Andrews said. “Everyone hit as much as possible during practices six days a week.”

Davis is also ready to put in all his efforts throughout the season and said she was motivated by the sheer amount of effort she saw all the other players sacrificing to make the team as successful as possible. She wants to enjoy the time with her teammates, but above all, she wants to win.

“I want everyone to give 100% every game and more,” Davis said. “I want them to feel comfortable in the team because I think that produces the best results.”

After returning to campus after winter break, Andrews said the team got up and conditioned to prepare for the season. However, she said she spends the most time with “challenge matches”, which determine singles positions for matches. Andrews admitted that competing against his own teammates for roster positions isn’t the easiest.

“Our sport is a little tough because we’re competing for our spots on the team,” Andrews said. “They tend to warm up a bit.”

The intense competitiveness of practices shows how determined each actor is carry out at their highest level. Due to the team’s instant bond, teammates aren’t afraid to let their competitive side shine. Hayes enjoyed every practice because of it and is especially excited for rookie Taylor Crain, who has marked the team since day one of practice.

Hayes said he expects her to play in the same venue for singles matches, which means she will play against the other team’s best singles player. That’s an incredible feat for a freshman.

“Taylor is not only talented, she’s also the ultimate team player,” Hayes said. “There’s a reason I recruited her.”

Along with “challenge matches”, which help prepare each player for the high intensity of matchday matches, the team has focused heavily on their mental preparation together. Tennis is a game that requires just as much numerous mental and physical strategies. In fact, Hayes believes mental awareness will be key to the team’s success this year.

“90% of our sport is really mental, while the other 10% is physical,” Hayes said. “We also worked with sports psychology students last semester with different strategies that we can use on the pitch.”

Davis, like Hayes, understands the importance of staying mentally ready and knows that team success will come when the team is connected under the same mental umbrella.

“We’re going to fight each other, talk between the courts and try to keep the energy up and stay positive,” Davis said. “You can certainly put yourself down if you’re just in your own world.”

The whole team also has clear goals for the coming season. The Liberty League playoffs have been out of reach for her in the past, having never been able to finish higher than the top five since joining the conference in 2017. This year, Davis said the team s expect to make some noise against rivals like Skidmore College. and Union College.

“Skidmore is always a tough team, but I’m really excited to play against Union,” Davis said. “It’s a good atmosphere when you play against them.”

Like Davis, Hayes wants to get better every day but will definitely be aware of the upcoming standings and matchups leading up to the Liberty League playoffs now. He sees his team making a deep run this year.

“We hope not only to participate in the Liberty League tournament, but to win at least one round and be among the bestfour teams in the entire conference,” Hayes said. “The ultimate goal is to win the Liberty League.”

The pieces are in place for the team to be one of the most successful in recent program history. The Bombers started their season Feb. 19 against Wilkes University with an 8-1 win, but with plenty more time until the Liberty League tournament, this could be an exciting team to watch.