The Geneseo tennis team is readying itself for the Division III NCAA Tournament. After giving their all against five teams over the course of two weekends, the Knights came away with a 1-4 record.
The tennis team plans to use the losses to prepare for the tournament, according to head coach Jason Stephens.
“The girls are playing well against good opponents and they’re kind of getting back in to the groove. Since our main season is in the fall, we start a little bit later in the spring time compared to other schools, and it’s taken us a little bit of time to get going,” Stephens said. “The girls have a great opportunity to play against really good teams. So when we face good teams at the NCAA tournament, we’ll be ready for them.”
Those “really good teams” include Ohio Wesleyan University and Kenyon College on March 31, The College of New Jersey on Friday April 6, Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham on Saturday April 7 and New York University on Sunday April 8. The Knights were shut out by three of those teams—NYU, TCNJ and Kenyon—but they managed to eke out a 5-4 win against FDU-Florham and won two out of nine against Ohio Wesleyan.
Junior Vanessa Lam-Tran, who won a singles match at FDU-Florham, identified the games against Ohio Wesleyan and Kenyon as indicators for the next two months of matches.
“Even though we lost . . . the teams were ranked very highly,” Lam-Tran said. “I think it was very good practice into our spring season and seeing teams that we might see at the national tournament in May . . . This is a good opportunity to see where the bar is set and try to reach that in the next coming weeks.”
The teams Geneseo faced were nationally ranked, according to Stephens. Playing tougher teams has been a tactic that the Knights have used to strengthen their own playing.
Junior Nina Lurie, who contributed to two victories in matches at FDU-Florham and two at Ohio Wesleyan, was one of the stand-out performers. Lurie felt that, despite their losses, the matches will help the Knights moving forward.
“We all fought really hard for each match. We obviously didn’t win . . . but it was really good competition and helped prepare us for nationals,” Lurie said. “Usually, if we make it to the second round at nationals, we play as one of the top seeds and usually it’s not a very close match. Hopefully with these tougher teams, we’ll have a closer match.”
Regardless of their record or how many matches the Knights win, the season will serve as a foundation for their performance throughout the rest of the year.
“I think it’s going to be a tough season in terms of winning matches, but I think it will be a good learning experience,” Lam-Tran said. “I think it will definitely prepare us not only for the spring tournament, but also for the fall season, which is an important season for us.”