Women Look to Overcome Recent Struggles at NCAC Tournament this Weekend

By Matt Mascolo

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The Gator women’s tennis team (11-8, 2-4) finished its last weekend of conference play with a 1-2 record, including a tough 5-4 loss to regionally ranked Wittenberg.

A bright spot for the ladies over the weekend was the doubles play of Sara Longo and Lauren Kristofco, who collected three wins in convincing fashion. Longo and Krisofco have a 9-4 record together, including four straight victories heading into the NCAC championships this weekend. Head coach Jared Luteran acknowledged the recent difficulties faced by other doubles pairs.

“We really struggled in our doubles the past three matches,” said Luteran. “We need to go back to drawing board and concentrate on performing better as a team in that phase of the match.”

The Gator doubles teams saw a lot of “moon ball” play this past weekend, a type of play that they aren’t accustomed to.

“Oberlin hit a lot of lob shots, just trying to keep it in play and we weren’t ready for it,” Luteran said. “Wittenberg did it a little too, we have to be prepared for that this weekend.”

The ladies were able to salvage the weekend by dominating Wooster 8-1. Carolyn Shetter and Lauren Kristofco picked up respective singles victories in two sets. Sara Longo won her match in three sets after losing the first 6-0, yielding one game after the first set. After struggling a bit in singles during the middle of the season, Longo posted two straight victories in the final weekend of the regular season.

The fifth-seeded Gators will have a rematch against Wittenberg in the first round of the NCAC tournament this weekend. In 2010, the Gators knocked off Wittenberg 5-1, taking all three doubles matchups.Luteran hopes to duplicate that performance this weekend.

“This weekend we didn’t play up to our potential, but we’re going to do some flipping around in our lineup,” Luteran said. “Our team is very capable. Doubles will be crucial this weekend.”

The flipping around Luteran is talking about will happen partly due to Janna Dickerson’s injury to her foot. Dickerson is questionable for the tournament and will undergo an x-ray to see if she suffered a stress fracture. If Dickerson isn’t able to go, freshman Laura Steele will move into the sixth spot for singles. Steele has only played in three singles matches this year, but Luteran insists she’s up for the challenge.

“She’s a very capable player. We have full confidence in her if she’s in the six spot,” Luteran said.

Other lineup changes include moving Deb Landau to No. 4 singles and Elyse Schmidt to the five spot. All rounds will be played this weekend and if the Gators beat Wittenberg, they’ll have sixth-ranked Denison waiting for them in the second round. All matches will be played at Oberlin College beginning Saturday.