The Geneseo women’s tennis team has won the SUNYAC title for the seventh year in a row. The Knights claimed the crown by defeating SUNY New Paltz 5-3 on Oct. 16.
Senior Anika Pornpitaksuk won both her doubles and singles matches, and was awarded Tournament MVP. All three singles victories for the team came in straight sets: Pornpitaksuk 6-2, 7-6; junior Nina Lurie 6-2, 6-3 and junior Vanessa Lam-Tran 7-6, 6-3.
Geneseo started its tournament play against SUNY Plattsburgh on Oct. 14, winning 5-0. In the semi-finals on Oct. 15, the team took down SUNY Oneonta 5-2 before advancing to the finals.
“Being SUNYAC champions again is great,” head coach Jason Stephens said. “This year was a real battle, and to win is very fulfilling. The girls were fantastic. Everyone worked hard, and when the tournament came around, they all stepped up. They kept their composure, played each point individually, and rallied behind each other well.”
“Winning SUNYACs was definitely the most exciting and emotional part of my tennis career,” freshman Dana Sorrentino said.
When asked about his favorite aspect of the season, coach Stephens pointed to the girls’ work ethic.
“The girls had a goal,” Stephens said. “They put in a lot of effort to attain it. Everyone battled together, and the captains did a fabulous job of keeping everyone motivated.”
A decisive factor putting the Knights above other teams is their chemistry, both on and off the court.
“The team is amazing. I can honestly say I feel comfortable going to anyone on the team about anything,” Sorrentino said. “My captains [senior Rachel Ollis] and [senior Lauren Salzano] made us all feel so comfortable here at Geneseo. Coach Stephens is a great coach and he gives everyone a fair chance to earn a spot.”
Despite the victory, the team isn’t finished yet. Having won SUNYACs, the women will return in the spring to play in the NCAA tournament. Competition there is on a much higher level, requiring deliberate and extensive preparation.
“For now, the women will take some much deserved time off. After this break, the most important thing is to start hitting again and gradually get back into the swing of things,” Stephens said. “There will be many opportunities in the off-season to experience competitive play. Staying in shape and exercising regularly is also very important.”
Besides physical conditioning, staying mentally sharp is also essential.
“The main thing I think we will work on is confidence. We have to learn to stay positive on the court, and even when we have an off day we must put the good thoughts above the bad,” Sorrentino said. “I know we can bring a strong mindset—like we had for SUNYACs—and that should really help us in the spring season.”
“The NCAA tournament is still a long way away. Many factors could arise between now and then—injuries, new editions and so on,” Stephens said. “Hopefully by the time the tournament comes we can put our best foot forward and represent the SUNYAC tournament in the best possible light.”
After their time off, the women will bounce back into action this spring after a rightfully earned hiatus and head into battle in the NCAA tournament.u