The tennis team continues to display excellence, as they have claimed the title as SUNYAC Tournament Champions for the sixth consecutive year. In the tournament, the Knights defeated SUNY Cortland and SUNY Oneonta before completing their championship run over opponent SUNY New Paltz on Oct. 10 with a final score of 5-1.
Head coach Jason Stephens took the position in 2015 and has since led the team to success for two years in a row. Stephen credited the team’s ability to maintain a high level of excellence to the culture that has been established and developed in the women’s tennis team throughout its past.
“Geneseo has always had really good tennis teams, there’s tradition there,” Stephens said.
The culture and tradition of the team was built, in large part, by previous head coach Jim Chen. Chen retired in 2015 as the most successful coach in the program’s history, compiling a record of 138-40.
The team added to that tradition this year with a 9-1 record, having five players named to the All-SUNYAC Team. Additionally, juniors Anika Pornpitaksuk and Lauren Salzano were named SUNYAC Women’s Tennis Doubles Team of the Year. These accomplishments are even more impressive when considering the team’s high expectations.
“The team only had one returning starter from last year’s team,” Stephens said.
This challenge of welcoming new players, however, was overcome by the overall chemistry of the group.
“Every team is different. This team is about grit and battling for every point,” Stephens said.
This mentality drove the team to harness the momentum of the team’s success and battle for every victory. Stephens emphasized that the team plays every point like it’s game point.
Stephens cited the team captains Salzano and junior Rachel Ollis as key figures in the team’s success. Having leaders amongst the team allowed Stephens to focus on the strategies and game plans used throughout the season, trusting the captains to keep the team focused and ready. This permitted the women to play their best tennis, especially in the SUNYAC Tournament.
Stephens also praised the performance of junior Sienna Susko, whom he mentioned had not played tennis in several years, but became an integral and impressive part of the team. This kind of dedication is consistent throughout the roster and, to Stephens, was what made this team special. “Every woman got a chance to contribute to the team’s success,” Stephens said.
Though the team and Stephens are happy with what they have accomplished this year, Stephens said that they are still looking to achieve more in the future. “We want to make our schedule tougher and to compete for more,” Stephens said.
With all that they have achieved this year, it will be exciting to see the tennis team overcome their next challenge.