For five hours on Saturday, Sept. 1, the Women’s Tennis Team faced off against Messiah College in their first match of the season. In spite of their valiant efforts, the Eagles were unable to wrestle a single set from Messiah, losing the match 0-9.
Despite the loss, Coach Angela Spock was proud of the team’s performance. In years past, Messiah had dominated the Eagles in tennis. Saturday’s match could hardly be called a blowout. The Eagles fought hard, forcing Messiah to earn every point of the game.
Senior Mandy Kuiken, the team’s top singles player, performed especially well, stretching her first singles set out an extra game before eventually losing 5-7.
Even though the team is coming off its season opener with a significant loss, Sprock remains optimistic about the remainder of the season. She is also confident that the memories of last season, in which the Eagles posted a record of 4-11, one of their lowest in recent history, will not impact the team this season.
“Last year was really a building season for the team since none of the girls had ever played competitively on a college level before,” Sprock said.
This season should be different since half of the roster consists of veteran players with a year’s worth of experience under their belts. Still, to most, the roster seems a bit small, but Sprock is not concerned.
“Eight is really the perfect number,” Sprock said. With eight players, the team actually has two more than is necessary to compete.
Contrary to most sports, player morale in tennis is not typically affected by the size of the fan turnout. It is a sport of concentration; it’s just the player and the ball. A horde of screaming fans would most likely serve only to distract the players and cause their performance to suffer.
Still, a little encouragement from friends is never a bad thing. “It would be nice if the students [at Eastern] supported the team a bit more,” Sprock said.
The Eagles’ next home match is against Neumann, a PAC opponent, on Wed, Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m.