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Tennis serves up start of spring season at VCU
With the spring season quickly approaching, the Georgetown varsity men’s and women’s tennis teams are eagerly anticipating their upcoming matchups. In 2012, both teams are facing much greater expectations, even after a promising 2011 finish.
During the fall, the men’s team ended with a record of 7-10, and lost their first two matches in the Big East Tournament. The Hoyas graduated two seniors from last year’s squad, and are as a result left with nine players as opposed to last year’s 11. However, the squad still remains very confident, led by senior Andrew Bruhn and junior Charlie Caris.
“I have a lot of confidence in our squad this year,” Caris said. “And it’s my job as an upperclassman to project that confidence during each match of the season. My goal for the team this season is for everyone to show up ready to play for every match.”
Head Coach Gordie Ernst said he wants the men’s squad to have a winning record this season.
“We’re just looking for more wins, especially against teams that are close to us,” he said. “Two of the teams we play this weekend are both pretty good teams that beat us in the past. Those are the teams that we can beat, the ones that are kind of close.”
The men’s squad begins its season at Virginia Commonwealth this Saturday at the 4+1 tournament. At last spring’s VCU 4+1 Tournament, the Blue and Gray performed disappointingly, also falling to both Virginia Commonwealth and Campbell University.
To prepare for this tournament, the teams have been having normal practices, with a heightened sense of urgency only days before the beginning of their spring campaign.
“We’re just trying to get as sharp as we can,” Ernst said. “We’ve hit a lot of tennis balls around…we’re just trying to get everyone in that frame of mind that [the season] starts this weekend.”
Caris feels that this year’s Hoyas will be able to sustain themselves throughout the season, especially with their extensive offseason regimen.
“Our new assistant coach, Matt Brooklyn, has put together a great program of agilities and running that has elevated the team to its best fitness level in my three years here,” Caris said.
In line with his view on getting his team in the right mindset, Ernst is not concerned about their loss last year.
“VCU is very, very good,” he said. “They’re very tough and 10 years ago … they were one of the top teams in the country. Obviously we’re not going to win all [these matches this weekend], but what we want to improve on are teams that are somewhat equal to us, so we want to go out there and get those wins.”
The women’s team will also participate in the 4+1 tournament, with their matchups beginning this Friday. The women lost to both VCU and Campbell last year.
Ernst is confident in the women’s team, especially with the addition of sophomore Cornell transfer Kelly Camolli, and because sophomore Tina Tehrani and senior Lauren Greco are now nationally ranked. This type of individual success has inspired team success.
“We have two girls who are nationally ranked for the first time,” he said. “How about the team gets nationally ranked? That is the common goal. If we can knock off a [ranked] team [early] on the women’s side, we could be in the national rankings.”
During the 2010-2011 season, the women’s team finished the regular season with a winning record of 11-6. They made it into the fourth round of the Big East Tournament, where they had a 2-2 record and fell to conference rival Syracuse. Like the men’s team, the women cut two players from their eleven members last season, but only had one student leave the team due to graduation. The women, led by senior Lauren Greco, are all fairly experienced, as eight out of the nine players participated in NCAA matches last season.
“We had a slow start last year, and then we really picked it up strong,” he said. “We want to build on confidence a little earlier in the season.”
As for both teams, Ernst places a strong focus on being in top competitive shape.
“We want that reputation that we’re just so tough to beat,” he said. “Throughout the lineup we’re mentally and physically tough. That’s what we’ve had a hole in, but now we have a bunch of kids on both teams that are really, really dedicated.”