Although it was cold and bitter rather than warm and beautiful, West Chester’s tennis team still went out and played in shorts and skirts against Millersville Saturday afternoon. This team went out with a mission: to play hard with determination. That is exactly what they did. Two distinct tactics were being utilized throughout the entire match. For the men, it was aggressive playing with excellent net game. As for the women, it was patience. The women played intelligently rather than foolishly. They didn’t use unnecessary strokes and they didn’t wail the ball across the court so it would go out. Rather, they used their ability to play sensibly; as the men’s coach, Dennis Olenik, kept encouraging them “Use your brain, not your muscle.” Both the men’s and women’s teams followed that motto for this match.
Doubles matches went first. In this type of tennis, net play is crucial. The men’s team did a superb job volleying against Millersville. For every hit there was a hit back. The men were always there ready for more. The women played the same way. Regardless of where the ball was, a player was always there. Both teams were determined to hit the ball one last time over the net.
The men’s first doubles team, played by Keith McCaffrey and Mike Orenshaw, displayed excellent skills. They showed what tennis was all about: teamwork and confidence. Their net game was outstanding along with their serving. Some say that serving is 75 percent of the game. Along with the first doubles was second doubles played by Zach Ryland and Matt Stevenson. These two players also showed strong net plays and serving. There were a lot of serves that players were unable to return. As for the third doubles, there was a combination of playing styles and Andrew Silverman and Brian Harris was a pair that exemplified this well. While Harris has strong serving, Silverman played best back at the baseline. With this combination, they both gave their opponents a match they couldn’t take lightly.
The singles match immediately followed the doubles. In the men’s first singles, McCaffrey rallied into three sets. In this match he showed his strong skills back at the baseline along with some excellent net playing. He used his brain and used good judgment as to where to place the ball against his opponent. This all paid off in the end, with McCaffrety winning 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. In the second singles match, Ryland brought his net play with him to his singles match. Rather than playing back by the baseline, he volleyed his way through each set and he kept at it until the end. In third singles, Jim Orr fought his way through three sets also. He certainly worked his way through until the end with scores of 6-0, 4-6, 10-8.
As for the women, they tried their hardest, in every match. This is new team along with a new coach, so there are going to be some bumps in the road. Fortunately, the women’s coach, Lisa Haldas, believes they have potential for success and winning, but it will just take some time. All three doubles matches showed the maturity in their playing. Rather than trying to hit the ball as hard as possible, they played with comfort and to hit the ball as many times as possible until the opponents got tired and tried to hit a fancy ball.
The singles matches were played through until the end also. Each player tried her hardest and won at least one game. Since this is a new team, winning games is important. The more games won, the more possibility of winning a set, or even a match. Both Beth Colarusso, first singles, and Kelley Dodgson, second singles, showed leadership throughout the match. They showed it during the doubles match, and each of their singles matches. These two players are seniors who will be leaving after this semester.
One major thing that was notable was the friendliness of the team. Both the men and the women seemed to get along fairly well. When they weren’t on the court, players cheered on their teammates. There were also a lot of congratulations and asking of how each other’s matches went. This tells a lot about a team. As Coach Olenik said, “The team is gelling together.” This is important in tennis, both singles and doubles. For singles, it’s reassuring to know that other team members are watching and cheering. For doubles, it is vital to “gel” with a partner. Being friends and getting along with your partner is key to success in doubles.
For a team that is new, the players have been doing a great job. They go out on the court with ease and confidence. The scores might not show it, but the players put their all into the game. As Haldas said, “This is a new program, with a new coach.” So far, they have proven to have great potential as a top team.