Despite putting a team with less experience than usual onto the courts on Sept. 20, the Geneseo tennis team still beat SUNY Cortland 9-0. The win closed out Geneseo’s regular season league schedule, with only two more matches and one tournament before the SUNYAC tournament. What was already a young team became even younger against Cortland, as sophomore Marylen Santos tried to fight off a particularly unpleasant cold. Santos was able to team with junior Amanda Rosati to get the win at first doubles, 8-4, but did not play her first singles match as usual.
Instead, everyone on the roster jumped up a spot and, in a display of the Knights’ great depth, had little trouble taking on the Red Dragons. Juniors Dexuan Yuan and Minxuan Yuan won at first and fifth singles, respectively, with similar scores of 6-1, 6-0. Rosati stepped up to second singles to win 6-2, 6-3, and freshmen Karli Hollins and Maggie Hale both won their matches at third and fourth singles, 6-2, 6-2, and 6-1, 6-0, respectively.
Perhaps the most satisfying win of the day came at sixth singles, at which sophomore Harpreet Aujla, normally an exhibition player, stepped up and won her match 6-0, 6-1.
“Because everyone moved up, it’s a more challenging match … but as you can see from the scores, we have a pretty deep team,” head coach Jim Chen said. “We won pretty decisively in singles even with [Santos] sitting out and everyone moving up. That, I think, was very significant.” He added, “Everyone pulled through very nicely.”
Chen said that normally freshman Veronica Skolnick would have earned the call-up, but as she was sick, he sent out Aujla, who earned praise from her coach for her play in a team meeting after the match.
Just as Aujla stepped up to win her match, Hollins and Hale have become significant contributors to the Knights’ wins. Chen said that he typically has one or two freshmen that immediately step into starting roles on the team.
“Karli and Maggie have fitted in extremely well, both in terms of the team concept and in terms of their individual play,” he said. “They are seasoned, they are well-coached and they have a lot of experience.”
Hale, from nearby Perry N.Y., played on the boys’ team during high school, which Chen said has made her “a great retriever” and “very consistent.” Hollins, from the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, N.Y., is, according to Chen, “a very accomplished, high-level, powerful player. She has a lot of upside.” Chen added that both players will have their roles increased as they gain more experience.
Next up for Geneseo is the Intercollegiate Tennis Association East Regional Tournament at William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y. Chen said that many of the best teams from the region will be there, so the tournament will be a good test for his team before the Knights look to claim their third-straight SUNYAC tournament title.