After a dominating fall season, the women's tennis team is set to get back out onto the court.
Head coach Jim Chen guided the team to a 9-1 record during the fall semester. Geneseo shut out six opponents and avenged an early loss to SUNY New Paltz by blanking the Hawks in the SUNYAC tournament finals.
“Our second singles player [sophomore Dexuan Yuan], who also plays second doubles … was injured,” Chen said regarding the first encounter with New Paltz. “She could barely turn her head.”
Dexuan's injury put Geneseo at a distinct disadvantage in two matches that it ended up losing. In the rematch, with a healthy Dexuan, the Knights turned the tables on the Hawks.
“We really got ready for that match,” Chen said.
After a winter hiatus, the team resumed practice again on Feb. 18. Practices were held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Mendon, N.Y. and conditioning sessions were on Tuesdays in Schrader Hall. Chen said that, as a coach, he has some access to professional tennis players and therefore is able to train his athletes in the same ways that the professionals are training.
Geneseo's first matches of the spring will take place in Puerto Rico from Monday March 18 through Friday March 22. The Knights will play two Puerto Rican teams, from Mayagüez and Río Piedras, as well as Springfield College before heading home. Although the focus in Puerto Rico is tennis, Chen advised his team to ensure that they take a day off to visit points of interest such as Old San Juan and the Puerto Rican rainforest.
Chen wants to have his team ready for the challenging spring season as soon as possible.
“Hopefully, by the time we hit Puerto Rico, we will be in mid-season form,” he said. After the lone home match against Roberts Wesleyan College on Wednesday April 3, the Knights play top teams in New York University, Hunter College and the College of New Jersey before starting play in the NCAA tournament.
Seniors Katie Talbot and Sarah Shields lead the team as co-captains. Talbot plays third singles and first doubles, while Shields takes fifth singles and second doubles.
Chen will rely on his two senior captains to lead the team down the long road to the NCAA tournament. He spoke highly of both Talbot and Shields, noting that both are excellent communicators who help out the younger members.
“They were all about team,” Chen said. “If the team wins, we all win.”