The women’s tennis team (7-5-2) kicked off NESCAC play with a 8-1 win against Connecticut College on Saturday, and a 7-2 win against Babson College on the same day.
According to Tasha Christ ’20, the team was pleased with its performance this weekend.
“Against Conn we were really strong in doubles, so that was great,” Christ said. “Everyone was really fired up. Against Babson, we played better. It was a crazy day. We were traveling a bunch and were really happy with the results.”
Returning to Maine after a 4-5 run in California over spring break, the team had to make some adjustments to get back into its routine, according to captain Tess Trinka ’18.
“It was a good weekend,” she said. “These were the first matches we played since being back from our spring break trip to California. It is always an adjustment to come back and be back in the academic routine but also be traveling on the weekends and playing matches. We also got to play outside again in our Babson match.”
Trinka believes the team’s defeats in California will allow it to enhance its performance in the future.
“We had some really close matches that didn’t go our way, and I’m hoping that we can use that as fuel,” Trinka said. “I’m hoping those are early season losses that will fuel people to work harder and to get better. I’d rather have those losses come at the beginning of the season and learn from them, so we can improve for later.”
Despite the losses, the outcomes of the matches in California increased the team’s overall confidence.
“We played a lot of really good teams and had some really close matches,” Christ said. “It didn’t turn out the way that we wanted it to, but we came home really driven. It was a wake-up call. I think our confidence has really increased since then, and that is going to be the biggest difference moving forward. We were right in there with the top teams, so we know we can do it.”
One of the main tactics the team is looking to improve is its ability to maintain energy on the court, according to Sasa Jovanoic ’20.
“I think a lot of the times we are all very focused on our matches and sometimes we lose track of the fact that we are also playing alongside each other,” Jovanoic said. “We are a very small team so sustaining the same energy, not only for ourselves but for other people at the same time is something we can definitely work on and it’s getting better every time we are out there.”
The team hopes to have strong play across the board, as opposed to individual stand-out performances.
“Looking forward to the rest of the season, the coaches have talked a lot about how we have had great moments from everyone, but we need to try to put those all together,” Trinka said. “When there [are] six of us out on the courts, it doesn’t mean anything if only one person is playing really well.”
Currently, there are only two upperclassmen on the roster, as three out of eight players from last year’s team graduated.
“Last year, our team was mostly juniors and seniors playing,” Christ said. “So there was a lot of wisdom and experience, which is something we don’t have this year. Even as a sophomore, I’m one of the oldest people playing on the court and that’s pretty crazy.”
As a result, first years have had to step up and fill the gaps.
“I think there were big shoes to fill,” Jovanoic added. “We lost three seniors last year. They were all huge people on our team that it is definitely a big role for freshmen to play and I think they have done a great job of doing that. They really stepped up on and off the court and really doing their part to make the team function.”
“They really had to jump in there and have responded well to us pushing them,” Christ continued. “They have definitely made the biggest difference. Without them we wouldn’t be doing well.”
The team will take its strengths into another busy weekend against Amherst and Emery. According to Jovanoic, both teams are going to put up a fight.
“Going into this weekend is going to be a battle,” she said. “Every match is a battle. I expect that everybody is going to be fighting for every single point. Last year, we had a tight match against Amherst—we lost 5-4. We are hungry for a win against both teams. I think we are really ready and excited to confront the challenge and do our best.”
The team will be playing at home this weekend, with anticipation of its fans coming out to support them.
“I think we have home field advantage and hopefully we will have a lot of supporters,” Christ said. “It’s nice that we are home.”
The Polar Bears will continue their conference matches against Amherst on Friday and Emery on Sunday at Pickard Tennis Courts.