Women’s tennis starts spring play

The Allegheny women’s tennis team opened its spring season with a loss to Case Western Reserve on Feb. 7. Case, currently ranked 23rd in the nation, put up a tough fight for the Gators.

“They are nationally ranked number 23, so you can’t make mistakes. You have to be consistent and we played well,” Head Coach Jared Luteran said. “Our team scores do not look as good as our individual competition was.”

Andrea Brush, ’16, and Mikaela Pope, ’16, fell 8-5 in doubles, followed by Brush playing singles and falling 7-5, 6-2. Other singles competitors, Sun Mo Koo, ’16, and Sloane Prince, ’16, lost 6-0, 6-2 and 6-3, 6-3 respectively.

“It was a mental game,” Prince said. “They were playing University of Chicago before us, so we had to watch them. It’s good to be able to figure out how they play, but they brought the momentum from the previous match.”

Though the match ended in a loss, the women are using their experience to prepare for the next match.

“We know specifically which shots to work on and how to make our response stronger,” Prince said. “It was good to have a challenging match to start the season, at practice we will have it in our minds and use it to motivate us.”

The team is also watching video from the match to see where improvements can be made.

“There is always something to learn,” Luteran said.

With spring season comes additional challenges of practicing on a different surface inside the Wise Center than an actual tennis court.

“It’s tough transitioning to other courts,” Abbey Turner, ’16, said. “Ours are fast and we tried to turn that into a positive against Case.”

Through the spring season, the Gators are training in different ways to mix up being indoors for so long.

“The spring season is longer and we have six practices a week,” Turner said. “It’s a bigger commitment and we are doing more hitting, along with swimming and other training.”

Luteran said the spring season can being mentally gruelling due to being inside on the blue courts for a long time.

“They set their own goals and they are different than mine,” Luteran said. “A lot of their goals have nothing to do with winning, rather on community service and the academic award. They realize that there is more to it than winning.”

The Gators are working to improve spirit and a strong team network.

“One focus is team chemistry,” Luteran said. “We want everyone on the same page and remain a family.”

The team is currently reading and discussing a book to bring them closer.

“We are reading ‘The Energy Bus’ together, and thinking about being positive and working cohesively,” Turner said. “We are all going through the same thing but we leave it all behind at practice and use tennis as an outlet.”

The team is looking forward to getting outside and competing at a high level.

“Spring break is our first chance outdoors,” Luteran said. “The regular courts are different so we can get out and see how we really play.”

In addition to getting outside, the team is hoping to improve in their playing against competitive teams in the conference.

“I have had a few injuries so I’m looking forward to being able to play hopefully the whole season without being held back,” Prince said. “Seeing how much I can add to my game without having to take breaks or do physical therapy.”

The Gators will face Westminster College on Feb. 22 in Erie, Pa.