While a bout of poor weather this weekend forced the Knights to enter the SUNYAC Championship without playing the final two matches of the year, the rain didn’t quell the team’s confidence as the season drew to a close.
The team’s final game on Sept. 20 marked a key moment for the team and was “pretty huge [for their confidence],” senior co-captain Katie Talbot said. Head coach Jim Chen echoed this sentiment and said that team confidence is high, especially in singles.
One of Geneseo’s most dominant singles players this season has been sophomore Zakiyyah Abdus-Salaam, who finished her first year as a starter with a perfect 7-0 record in singles.
On the court, Abdus-Salaam said she found success with her mental edge by “leaving it all out there” during her matches. In preparation for SUNYACs, she has been working on her backhand.
The Knights combined for 36-6 in singles this season, a number that could have been higher if the team had completed its full schedule.
On Friday Sept. 28 the Knights were all set to take on the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers, but an unexpected shower earlier in the day soaked the courts.
Though the grounds crew, players and even members of the Geneseo men’s basketball team tried to dry the courts, both sides decided that it was too dangerous to play and the match was cancelled.
Another unforeseen rain shower prevented the team from playing its final match at SUNY Cortland on Sunday Sept. 30. Due to the proximity to the SUNYAC Championship, which begins Oct. 5 at the Eastside Racquet Club in Manlius, N.Y., there will be no rescheduled games.
In preparation for the tournament, co-captains Talbot and senior Sarah Shields said the team will focus on doubles play, as they have done all season.
Both said the team always tries to win at least two of the three doubles matches so they can have a lead going into singles play.
The Knights will also move their practices to an indoor facility this week to get accustomed to the indoor courts at SUNY Binghamton, where the tournament will be held.
Shields said, “We’re prepared physically … We just need to get mentally tough… and not get nervous.”
In order to toughen the team mentally, Chen had his team perform a unique drill: a sing-along session to Carly Rae Jepsen’s smash hit “Call Me Maybe.”
“They don’t sing to get to the end of song; they sing because they enjoy it … [Similarly] you play tennis because you enjoy it, [not] to get to the end of the match,” Chen said. “If you concentrate on the outcome you don’t play well … You have to be in the moment.”