Tennis opens season with strong performance

The Geneseo women's tennis team dominated the Nazareth Golden Flyers Thursday Sept. 1 in their first match of the season.

The Knights, who beat the Golden Flyers 8-1 to start the 2010 season, won handily by a score of 7-2 in this year's rematch.

Coming off a second place finish in the 2010 SUNYAC championships, head coach Jim Chen said that this year's team "has to find its place."

"From my perspective," he said, "This is a more competitive team [than last year's]." This year's team features a mixture of youth and experience, and includes several members from the 2009 SUNYAC championship team.

Senior Monica Veith got off to a slow start at first singles and dropped her first set, 4-6. But according to Chen she "wised up pretty quickly … [and] lengthened the points." This new strategy paid off, as Veith rallied to win the next set, 6-3. She then proceeded to shut out her opponent 10-0 in the tiebreaker to secure the victory.

Veith studied in Oxford, England over the summer, and Chen cited this time away from the game as the likely reason for her slow start. Chen did not seem worried about his senior star though, and said, "She is going to reach midseason form very quickly." Veith also teamed with senior captain Julia Passik to secure a victory at second doubles, 8-2.

Chen had nothing but praise for Passik, and lauded her ability to connect with all the players, especially the freshmen. "She understands leadership and puts the team before herself," Chen said. Strong leadership will be important for the team, which features a slew of talented freshmen.

Five freshmen played in the first match: Kaho and Shiho Sato, Dexuan and Minxuan Yuan, and Amanda Rosati. Chen described Rosati as a strong player, and said he expects her to contribute significantly. Rosati handled her opponent in fifth singles, winning 6-1, 6-1.

The Sato sisters won consecutive state doubles championships in high school, but fell 8-3 in first doubles in their first match at the collegiate level. Shiho Sato also played third singles and won by a score of 6-1, 6-1. Dexuan Yuan started at second singles, but lost in one of the few close matches of the day, 7-5, 7-5. Her sister Minxuan Yuan put in a solid performance, and won third doubles with senior Lauren Johnson, 8-2.

The team was happy to welcome back Johnson, who missed all of last season due to injury. Chen singled out Johnson's performance and described her as a "tremendous doubles player."

"The fact that she came back, I think that's outstanding," said Chen. "She still plays with pain, but what a trooper."

Juniors Katie Talbot and Sarah Shields each put in impressive performances at fourth and sixth singles, respectively. Talbot cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 victory, while Shields was relentless in a 6-0, 6-0 victory to cap singles play.

The Knights kick off SUNYAC play away this Thursday Sept. 8 against SUNY Oswego.