The women’s tennis team will try to close out its fall season with a win this weekend as it travels to State College, Pa., for the Penn State Mock Duals.
The Red will play two rounds of doubles matches today against the Nittany Lions, with two singles matches slated for tomorrow.
Counting for individual but not team records, the mock duals provide the women with an opportunity to practice matchplay without much pressure. The Red previously found success in mock dual competition when it hosted Binghamton and UMass in October, defeating both teams, 8-1.
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“It’s really just a last-minute match before we head into the off-season,” said senior co-captain Nisha Suda. “The practice is really good for us; it’s low-key and friendly. We’re changing our lineup and trying out different match strategies as well.”
After experimenting with several doubles combinations over the season, head coach Laura Glitz plans to keep the most successful pairs together. Suda and sophomore Tamara John, who won key matches playing together in the Cornell Fall Invitational, will team up again in this weekend’s competition. The Cornell Fall Invitational A Flight doubles champions, sophomores Catherine Duboc and Shayna Miller, form another tandem. Senior co-captain Kasia Preneta and sophomore Elizabeth Googe will also remain a team.
According to Suda, the Red also aims to test out different playing styles against Penn State.
“I think the key, win or lose, is trying new things,” Suda said. “We’re going to be more aggressive by serving and volleying, and [Glitz] told us to attack the net at all costs. If we can use these tactics in practice matches against other opponents, we can get a lot more confident. We’re a pretty young team with mostly sophomores who have had only one season of experience. Freshman year you’re typically a bit tentative and just focus on getting the ball back. In practice [Preneta] and I tend to be more aggressive, and we want to get the underclassmen up to speed.”
Although the women will continue to experiment with their games and try to improve, Suda is happy with the successes of the Red’s fall season thus far.
“I think we all had a great time and played great tennis in Colorado [at the USAFA invitational]. We hosted a great fall invitational, and we had a really successful dual match weekend with Binghamton and UMass.”
Suda and Preneta both competed in the main singles draw of the ITA regional championships. Preneta chalked up two wins at the ITA tournament, while Suda pummeled her first round opponent, 6-2 6-0, making it to the second round.
John and Googe also participated in the ITA qualifying tournament. Googe was crowned the B Flight singles champion at the Cornell Fall Invitational, and she was a finalist in the flight III singles division at the USAFA Invitational.
Miller won all four of her singles and doubles matches in the mock duals against Binghamton and UMass. Earlier in the season, she paired with Duboc to claim the A Flight doubles title at the Cornell Fall Invitational.
The trio of juniors Ashley Ebbert, Dana Cruite, and Weatherly Schwab has also played well. Cruite served up an impressive double bagel, 6-0 6-0, in her mock dual singles match against UMass. Schwab won the flight V doubles title at the USAFA Invitational, where she also reached the finals of the flight IX singles bracket. Ebbert was a finalist in the flight VIII singles division of the same tournament.
This weekend’s matches will be the only ones this year in which the Red will square off against the Nittany Lions. After the Penn State mock duals, the team will cease to have official practices, but Suda plans to keep her teammates in shape during the off-season.
“We’re still going to be doing some training,” Suda said. “The mandatory days off simply mean that [Glitz] can’t coach us. We’ve planned to hit with each other, to stay on top of our games, and to stay fit. We’ve done so much this season and we don’t want to lose that progress.”