By Skippy Faber, Staff Writer
As Kalamazoo falls deeper and deeper into winter, things are heating up inside Markin Racquet Center. Though it may be considered a spring sport, your women’s tennis team has been preparing since the fall for their season, which kicks off Saturday, Feb. 2 with a home doubleheader against Ohio Northern and division I Valparaiso.
The Hornets come into the 2013 season having lost two seniors, #1 singles player Kelsey Hassevoort and #2 singles player Paula Silverman. The duo also formed last year’s #1 doubles team. While this may appear to be a big obstacle for the team to overcome, Head Coach Mark Murphy did a stellar job recruiting, bringing in four talented freshmen to replace the players that were lost to graduation. The rookies have already had a large impact on the team dynamic, going into the season.
The most notable performance was delivered by Sarah Woods ’16 in the MIAA Flighted Tournament in September. Woods won the singles tournament, beating out the best competition that the other schools had within the conference.
Captain Jenna Riehl ’14 described the team, saying, “Though we lost two starting seniors from last year, we are looking at a successful season this year due to the experience of those who are returning and the competitiveness the freshmen have brought to the team. We are a young team, but we certainly have the talent and potential to make a run for the conference title.”
The Hornets schedule begins with a slew of tough non-conference matchups against teams such as Case Western, Baldwin Wallace, and Valparaiso. After these schools, the Hornets fly to Florida for a spring break trip that features three more opponents. These matches are set up to get the Hornets playing their best tennis as they enter the MIAA season. Last year the team posted a 5-2 record against conference opponents and was knocked out of the conference tournament by Albion, the eventual runner-up.
This year’s attitude is championship or bust. As Kelsey Moran ’14 put it, “The team really believes that we have what it takes to win the conference and make it to the NCAA tournament. It’s what everyone is working toward.”
It should be a strong season from the women’s tennis team. With a schedule featuring nine home matches, I urge the student body to get out and support the Hornets in their quest for a conference title.