Women's tennis to kick off fall season
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 23:09
As the UConn women’s tennis season looks to kick off this weekend, the buzz word for the team is experience.
Coming off a 2-1 record from last fall and an 8-10 record last spring, the team sees much room for improvement, but remain optimistic, heading into the 2012 season. The team did not qualify for the Big East Championships at the end of last season, but there is more than a glimmer of hope for this year’s squad.
While the graduation of last year’s lone starting senior and captain, Alexa Gregory, will certainly loom overhead, this year presents the Huskies with a new scenario: three starting seniors and nine of last year’s twelve players returning for another season of competition. Multiple years of on-the-court experience will almost certainly give the Huskies an edge.
Coach Glenn Marshall, who is entering his 16th season coaching the women’s team, has expressed a significant amount of confidence in his squad, much of it stemming from the strong base of upperclassmen coming back for another season.
Marshall said having significant roster depth really helps the team.
“Because they’ve been through the types of seasons that we have, they can help guide [new team members] along,” Marshall said. “Having nine people know the system really well … it’s really helpful.”
And that is just what he hopes will happen at the first tournament of the season. On Saturday, the Huskies will return for a third year to the Fairfield Doubles Festival, in the hopes of besting last year’s results and starting off the new season strong. The format of the tournament is atypical because it features only doubles competition, but it should provide some indication as to how this season will play out for the Huskies.
Last fall, three tandems advanced to the semifinal rounds of the tournament in their respective pools, facing off against Quinnipiac, Rhode Island, Providence, Bryant, Hartford, Fairfield, and Sacred Heart. This year, the schools that will be in play are the same and the Huskies hope to excel in the opening tournament. However, the expectations aren’t set too high.
“You never know what to expect,” said junior Jennifer Learmonth, who advanced to the semifinals with Maxene Weinberg last year. “It’s only doubles and it’s the freshmen’s first college experience.”
UConn will be introduced to three new talents joining the team this season: sophomore transfer (from UMass) Emilie Burgess as well as freshmen Alex Bergman from Illinois and Srna Stoŝljević from Florida. Marshall had nothing but praise for the new recruits on the team, expressing a significant amount of confidence in their abilities.
“The new players are looking good,” Marshall said. “Srna Stoŝljević is going to be playing, as a freshman, in the top one or two. We have another freshman … a tall player with great serve, great reach, good hands, Alex Bergman … and a transfer, a sophomore from Connecticut, who went to UMass last year, Emilie Burgess, who is … a really good groundstroker.”
The focus for the entire team is striving to have a successful spring season and so that they can return to the Big East Championships for the first time since 2011. The fall season will essentially serve as the time for preparation, where each player will be closely examined in order to work through their issues on the court.
Coach Marshall stated that having a 70 percent win percentage in this upcoming season would be the ideal outcome for the team. Heading into Fairfield, the spirits are high and the confidence is plentiful. Perhaps that will be the key to a successful fall season for the Huskies.
“I certainly hope we do better this season,” Learmonth said.We have the talent for it.”