After posting a 3-2 record in the fall portion of their season, West Chester University’s women’s tennis team resumed their play earlier this month with a team trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina. The spring break trip saw the team play four matches in five days against non-league opponents from South Carolina, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois.
The Golden Rams began the PTR Spring Fling tournament on March 11 with a 9-0 loss to South Carolina’s Limestone College. The Saints dominated the singles competition, winning all six matches in straight sets. WCU’s Alex Santoro gave the team their best chance at a singles victory with a 7-5,7-5 loss to Limestone’s Lauren Bolender.
Doubles competition drew out better performances from the Golden Rams as the number one duo of captain Brittany Counts and Alex Santoro dropped a tough 9-7 match, while the second doubles team of Ali Fetter and Nicole Paller fell 8-6.
The next two matches put the women up against tough competition from North Central Texas College and Tiffin University, which they lost 8-1 and 9-0 respectively. Sophomore Nikki Paller earned WCU’s only point of the two matches with a straight set victory over Sarah Palacio of NCTC.
Their fortunes changed in their final match against Roosevelt University as they steamrolled the Lakers 9-0. Nicole Paller, Haley Wissinger, and Rebecca Thiel all won their matches 6-0, 6-0 while the top three singles of Counts, Ali Fetter, and Santoro only dropped a total of six games.
“I was pleased with the performance [in South Carolina],” head coach Tina Tharp said. “We didn’t get a lot of play in the fall due to the delay in our courts being ready for competition…so we were trying out different doubles combinations to see what our strongest combinations would be and what our strongest line-up would be.”
Unfortunately, the run was not to last, as they traveled to Washington, D.C. to take on the University of the District of Columbia. WCU was swept early in the doubles competition and were unable to recover in the 9-0 loss to UDC. Paller came close to getting the Golden Rams on the board in her three set singles loss. Paller clawed back from a 6-1 first set defeat to push the match to the deciding third set where she fell 10-3 in the tie-breaker, dropping the set 7-6.
The loss was only a minor setback for the girls, as they came back up to take two consecutive matches: one against Philadelphia University and an all important conference win over East Stroudsburg University, putting the right foot forward on their quest to earn post-season play this year.
West Chester’s men’s tennis team also restarted the season in Hilton Head after their 2-3 start in the fall with four matches of their own.
The men came out in a better position than the women, finishing with a 2-2 record for the week. They began the trip with a 5-4 win over Ohio Wesleyan University on March 11. Luan Kichen played a fantastic match at fourth singles to take the win of the Golden Rams. Kichen, a junior, dropped the first set 2-6 and came back to post a 6-3 win in the second and a 6-4 win in the third.
The next two matches were not as successful for the men as they, like the women, lost to Limestone College and Tiffin University. Their final match, however, was a mirror image of the women’s match as they swept the court with a 9-0 victory over Roosevelt University, losing a combined total of only five games.
“We came out with a 2-2 record, but competed in both of our defeats,” captain David Goldenberg said. “It was a great experience to play teams from out of our conference and from different states. I’m proud of how the team is performing so far.”
The trip back north was just as unkind to the men as it was to the women, beginning the post-trip season with a 9-0 loss to the University of the District of Columbia. That was immediately followed up by a 7-2 defeat at the hands of Philadelphia University.
The Golden Rams turned the tide this week with a convincing 6-3 victory over Gloucester County College and a dominating 9-0 win over Bloomfield. The two straight victories improved the team to a record of 6-7 overall, and gives them the momentum they need going into league play, where they will be looking to earn a post-season birth.
“We stay really focused at practice and continue to work hard on the court,” explained Goldenberg. “I believe we are out-performing ourselves from last year, and I’m confident that all of our hard work and excellent coaching by coach Tharp will lead us into the post season.”
Brian Johnson is a fourth-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at BJ669485@wcupa.edu.