By Mark Thomson
With the graduation of Amanda Wenzel ’10 and Stephanie Lee ’10 and the addition of five new freshmen (out of eleven total players), the women’s tennis team is in a bit of a rebuilding year. “Losing the two seniors has been tough. They were the two best players and competitors,” said Paige Schaefer ’13. “That being said, we’ve added a lot of talent. Someone who has played all four years like Abby Citrin ’11 has more mental toughness and experience and that’s something that some of the freshmen are missing. However, they’re learning how to compete and play well. I’m excited for the future.”Although it hurts to lose two players of Wenzel and Lee’s caliber, it also provides new opportunities for first years. “It’s tough when you have a lot of new girls. We lost our numbers one and two from last year, so everyone needs to step up. Stephanie and Amanda were big parts of our team, and we miss them a lot,” said Citrin. “But we definitely have a lot of potential. It’s important to note that we have a lot of new girls who are going to have to get used to playing in higher pressure matches than in high school. We can take this potential and build on it. ” Despite the losses of these two key players, the team got off to a strong start against Northwestern and Martin Luther to start off the spring season. The team managed to win both matches without dropping a single individual match. However, the team has found MIAC play to be more of a challenge. “The conference is really tough,” said Maddie Vargo ’13. “It’s always one of the strongest leagues in the country.”Coming off back-to-back conference losses to St. Olaf and Hamline to drop their record to 2-2 (0-2 MIAC), the team looks to turn its season around at Hilton Head, South Carolina over spring break. The team kicks off competition against Greenville and Texas Lutheran on Sunday (March 13th) and then plays Manhattanville and Spring Arbor on Monday. The trip culminates with a match against Shephard on Tuesday. The Scots are greatly anticipating the opportunity to play some outdoor tennis and gain some momentum for the rest of the season.”I’m looking forward to playing on some real courts,” said Schaefer. “Playing indoors is not tennis. These aren’t conference teams that we’re going to be playing, so it really doesn’t matter how we play. It’s like practice, except every match we’ll get mentally tougher and learn more about our game.”Citrin was similarly excited about spring break. “Hilton Head is always the best part of the season. We’re going to play five matches in three days against a couple of schools from the East Coast. It’s a lot of tennis but it’ll give us some match experience and give us something to build upon for the rest of the conference season.”Although the Scots look to improve on the courts, they are also looking to improve off of them. Historically, the team has experienced quite a bit of bonding during this trip, as they live with one another in close quarters, free from school and other extracurricular activities to distract them from tennis. “There’s a lot of team bonding that goes on during this trip,” said Schaefer. “In addition to playing tennis, I’m also looking forward to biking with everyone.”Schaefer wasn’t the only player to cite the therapeutic properties of bike riding as a device for helping to bring the team together. “We bike a lot around the island,” said Vargo. “Bike rides are always fun, and it helps us bond as a team. But even though we want to have fun in the sun, we also really want to win. I’m still figuring some things out and hope to get the kinks out before the middle of the season.”After spring break, hopefully armed with renewed confidence and a stronger bond with one another, the team has eight more conference matches to convert their potential into victories. The team’s next MIAC opponent will be St. Benedict on March 26th.