Women's tennis looks to continue dominance

Coach Jim Chen and the Geneseo women’s tennis team are looking to build on what they’ve accomplished the past few years. The Knights have three straight SUNYAC titles and show no signs of slowing down.Chen’s philosophy of dedication, a willingness to succeed and having fun has brought not only championships, but a union between players that have determined to intensify themselves in practice in order to improve consistency and movement. With the addition of new drills at practice and a more aggressive mentality toward the net for doubles, Chen says his team has a lot of potential for success. “[We have] a wide open opportunity,” Chen said. “[We could] have a big year.” Team captains junior Amanda Rosati and sophomore Marylen Santi are looking to take their team to the next level. For this team, that means advancing past the first round of the NCAA tournament. Geneseo will definitely need its strong volley hitters sophomore Maggie Hale and junior Mai Hashimoto to play to their potential. Hard-hitting senior twins Dexuan and Minxuan Yuan are looking to succeed in their final campaign in Knights uniforms. Freshmen Anika Pornpitaksuk, Lauren Salzano and Rachel Ollis hope to take their game to the collegiate level in their first season. “We are in midseason form for our singles already and this team is deeper than last year’s team,” Chen said. That confidence is well-placed. The Knights topped SUNY Oswego on Aug. 29 9-0. The potential of this team goes up with every serve. If the team improves in doubles, stays focused and keeps winning consistently, they will have no problem storming through the conference once again and could easily make a run in the NCAA tournament. The Knights' next home game is Oct. 4 vs. SUNY Brockport.

Tennis twins double up

“When you get both of them clicking and on the same page, they’re very strong.” That’s how head coach James Chen described the play of Geneseo’s tennis players juniors Dexuan and Minxuan Yuan. In Geneseo’s most recent match against William Smith College on April 16, the Yuan sisters helped lead a spirited effort by the Knights that fell just short as the Herons came away with a 5-4 win.

Despite each doubles match being hotly contested, the Yuans were able to pull out their second doubles match 8-6, making the score 2-1 in favor of William Smith as the match headed into singles play.

With the Herons taking wins at first and third singles and freshmen Karli Hollins, Maggie Hale and Minxuan Yuan posting victories at fourth, fifth and sixth singles, the deadlocked match came down to second singles.

After taking the first set 6-3, Dexuan Yuan said that her opponent stepped up her game.

“In the next two sets, she got every ball back. I made too many mistakes so that’s why I lost,” Dexuan Yuan said. She echoed Chen’s philosophy that the player that plays more consistently and does not attempt to hit too many winners will come out on top.

Even though the match did not end the way the Knights had hoped, the twins’ improved play was a good sign.

“Together, the two of them are playing really well [right now],” Chen said of the duo, who have been playing tennis together for 12 years. In that span, the twins have developed distinct playing styles, but that does not stop them from meshing well on the court.

“I’m more aggressive in singles,” Dexuan Yuan said, before adding that her sister, who much prefers to play doubles, takes more risks in that mode of play, poaching lazy shots from opponents and dominating at the net.

While contrasting styles might appear to hinder the development of a good doubles team, Minxuan Yuan added that familiarity really helps them out.

“We know each other a lot. I don’t even have to look at her and I know where the next point is going to go. I cover her easily,” Minxuan Yuan said.

Both sisters will have to continue this level of play as the young Knights gear up for postseason action. The team only has one game left at the College of New Jersey on Saturday April 26 before the NCAA Tournament.

New Jersey, itself a tournament team, represents a significant challenge for the Knights, who will not only be seeking some momentum heading into the tournament, but also some revenge. The Lions beat Geneseo twice last season, one time bouncing them from last year’s edition of the NCAA tournament.

Chen, tennis team not disappointed by loss

While no athlete would ever say they enjoy losing, occasionally there are still positives to take away from a losing effort. The Geneseo tennis team did just that on Sunday April 6 when it just missed picking up a win against Hamilton College.

In the doubles matches, Geneseo fell behind 1-2, with only sophomore Marylen Santos and junior Amanda Rosati scoring a point. Santos and Rosati also won their singles matches at first and third singles, respectively, as did freshman Karli Hollins at fourth singles. The Continentals, however, won at second and fifth singles to tie the match at 4-4 heading into junior Minxuan Yuan’s sixth singles match.

Head coach James Chen said that by the time this match started it was already 11:00 p.m. Yuan split the first two sets, but with the clock striking midnight – and Geneseo facing a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride back to campus on a school night – she made the decision to retire in the third set, giving the win to Hamilton.

Despite the loss, Chen said that the team was able to gain something from the match. Between the carpet-like surface of the Hamilton courts and the late start time, the difficult match allowed his players to face adversity – something that was rare for them in the fall. This will become far more common, however, as the spring season leads to the NCAA tournament in May.

“On behalf of the team, they are troopers. They rolled with the punches,” Chen said. “[It] is very important to maintain your composure and to deal with what we have to deal with. At least two or three of our players had trouble with the surface, but we got over it.”

Chen lauded Hollins for playing a particularly excellent singles match. After dropping the first set 4-6 and coming back to win the second set 6-4, the third set did not begin positively for her; she went down 5-1.

“You have to give her a huge amount of credit,” Chen said. “[She was down] 5-1 and she started playing [and] didn’t give away the game and she came back and won in a tiebreaker. Really impressive.”

Chen attributes the victory partially to a change in how Hollins plays the game. Before, she played with more aggression, which sometimes caused unforced errors.

“[Hollins] has learned to keep the ball in play and sustain a rally,” Chen said. “Look at the third set. She’s down 5-1…if she made errors and lost one game, she’s done. [Instead,] she stopped making errors.”

The Knights face the University of Rochester on Thursday April 10 and New York University on Saturday April 12.

Chen earns third coach-of-the-year title and fifth SUNYAC title for tennis

With a decisive 5-1 victory over SUNY New Paltz on Oct. 13, the women’s tennis team claimed its fifth SUNYAC title in six years. The Knights, who finish the fall season at 11-1, also booked a trip to the NCAA tournament with their triumph in the tournament, which also included 5-0 wins over SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Oneonta.

Despite the margin of victory, Geneseo did not enter the tournament lacking adversity. An ankle injury to junior Dexuan Yuan, who plays second singles and teams with her sister junior Minxuan Yuan at second doubles, forced head coach Jim Chen to shuffle his lineup. Although they were held out of singles competition in the tournament opener against Plattsburgh, Dexuan Yuan and Minxuan Yuan won their second doubles match 8-1 to help Geneseo to a 5-0 victory.

The next day, Geneseo faced off with Oneonta. Again, Geneseo was able to win all three doubles matches. The wins that clinched the match for the Knights came from freshmen Karli Hollins, who won 6-2, 6-0 at fourth singles and Maggie Hale, who won 6-2, 6-2 at fifth singles.

The championship match against New Paltz saw some hotly contested doubles matches. While Hollins and Hale cruised 8-1 at third doubles, Dexuan Yuan and Minxuan Yuan fell at second doubles 8-6. With the teams tied 1-1, junior Amanda Rosati and sophomore Marylen Santos gutted out an 8-6 win at first doubles to give Geneseo the advantage.

The depth of the Knights’ team showed next, as the bottom half of the singles roster posted victories to defend Geneseo’s crown. Hollins won 6-2, 6-3 at fourth singles, Hale triumphed 6-2, 6-4 at fifth singles and Minxuan Yuan took a 6-0, 6-0 victory at sixth singles.

After the tournament, Chen quickly turned the attention on his players.

“The team peaked at the right time,” he said. “I can’t sing the praises of the team loud enough. When the chips [are] down, these players have a lot of fight in them.”

Even though his players were the ones on the court, Chen deserves recognition as well, as he was given SUNYAC Coach of the Year honors for the third straight year. With more than 120 wins over 12 years at the helm of the program, Chen has cemented his status as one of the top coaches in the league, if not the region.

In the spring, Chen will lead the team he regards as “pretty special” against bigger, tougher opponents in preparation for the NCAA tournament.

“I look at these next several months as a charm; I revel in this kind of stuff,” Chen said. “We know that we are relatively good, [and] we know that we can get better.”

While he acknowledged that it will not happen this year, Geneseo is moving ever closer to being able to accomplish what Chen said is his loftiest dream for the team: “Ultimately, we want to be national champions.”

Tennis loses but recovers against Division I Siena College

To prepare for the upcoming SUNYAC tournament for the Geneseo tennis team, head coach Jim Chen scheduled matches against teams that would challenge the Knights. The Knights lost their first match of the season to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 5-4 on Saturday Oct. 5, coming back the next day to beat Division I Siena College by the same margin.

Read More

Tennis competes for first time in regional tournament

In the short span of less than a decade, the Geneseo tennis team has gone from mere afterthought to formidable competitor on the regional stage. This progress showed on the weekend of Sept. 28, as the Knights competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional Championships at William Smith College. Head coach Jim Chen said that Geneseo has not competed at the tournament recently due to a lack of competitiveness on the Knights’ part.

“Five, six, seven years ago, we would never win a match at this tournament,” Chen said in a phone interview.

In the doubles portion of the tournament, the normal third doubles team of freshmen Karli Hollins and Maggie Hale beat a team from Bard College 8-4 in the first round. Their next opponents, from Skidmore College, defeated Hollins and Hale 8-0, although Chen noted that this was Skidmore’s first doubles team.

The other Geneseo doubles pairing juniors Amanda Rosati and Minxuan Yuan lost their first match but recovered to win against Nazareth College’s first doubles team before losing in the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket. The win was especially noteworthy considering that the pair does not usually play together; Rosati’s usual partner is sophomore Marylen Santos, while Minxuan Yuan is her twin sister Dexuan Yuan.

In singles play, the Knights entered Dexuan Yuan, Rosati and Santos into a very strong 64-player field. Dexuan Yuan, fighting an ankle injury, lost in the first round 7-5, 6-1. Rosati won her first-round match by the same margin and earned the right to play the tournament’s top-seeded player Cristina Nunez of Ithaca College. While Rosati eventually fell 6-1, 6-3, the match was closer than the score indicated, according to Chen. He said that he believes that in a standard team-based match, Rosati would have a shot at beating Nunez.

Geneseo’s most successful player was Santos, who defeated opponents from St. Lawrence University, Elmira College and the College of New Jersey in order to make the quarterfinals, in which she lost to a player from Brooklyn College 6-1, 6-0.

Despite the score, Chen said, Santos’ last match was entertaining, well played and attracted quite the crowd. Coming off of a three-set victory against the College of New Jersey player, Santos “ran out of steam” but still left everything on the court and was able to contest each point.

Overall, Chen and his team came away from the tournament with both confidence and knowledge of areas that need improvement.

“It’s always a measure of where you are in a season when you can go to a tournament like that and play well,” Chen said. “We can hang with the best … I hope the players realize that they did something significant.”

He also said that the doubles teams still need improvement in order to complete the rest of the fall season without any blemishes. Geneseo has two regular season matches left before the SUNYAC tournament. Winning this tournament will automatically qualify the Knights for the NCAA tournament in the spring.

Tennis wins despite 'cold'

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.

Tennis shuts out SUNY Oswego

The women’s tennis team wasted no time making a statement this fall, traveling to SUNY Oswego on Friday Aug. 30 and dispatching the hosting Lakers, 9-0. The Knights won a SUNYAC title in the fall of 2012 and earned a berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament in spring 2013 on their way to a 15-4 record. Former co-captains Katie Talbot ‘13 and Sarah Shields ‘13 graduated, but this year’s younger version of the Knights has potential to be just as successful as their predecessors.

“We think it’s going to be a challenge, but my fond hope is that we will rise to that challenge,” head coach James Chen said in a phone interview. Chen is entering his 12th year as head coach of the Knights, and in anticipation of his team’s relative inexperience – four freshmen without any seniors on the 11-member squad – he said he purposely scheduled some difficult matches this year in order to test his team.

After starting the fall season against Oswego and then opening the home slate on Thursday Sept. 5 with local rival Nazareth College, the Knights will participate in the Mary Hosking Tournament at William Smith College. Later this month, Geneseo will participate in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Northeast Tournament, where it will close out its fall schedule with two interesting matches: a visit to perennial power Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a rare match against Division I Siena College.

Some might question the prudence of such a difficult schedule, but Chen said that he has full faith in his young team. Already, he said, he can see improvements in the team, especially in the leadership qualities exhibited by the two new co-captains.

“[Junior] Amanda Rosati and [sophomore] Marylen Santos have really stepped up,” Chen said. The duo, who were key players on the team last year, are now two of the more experienced players on the team, looking to guide the Knights to success once again.

Santos, who is entering her second year at first singles, and Rosati, last year’s fourth singles player but now at third singles, cruised thrvough their singles matches with identical 6-0, 6-1 scores before beating Oswego’s first doubles team, 8-0.

Junior twins Minxuan Yuan at sixth singles and Dexuan Yuan at second singles never dropped so much as a game, winning their singles matches 6-0, 6-0 and then pairing to triumph at second doubles, 8-0. A pair of freshmen, Karli Hollins and Maggie Hale, earned the final three victories for the Knights.

While it is very early in the season, Chen said that he is excited about the direction of his team.

“There is a progression that I have in mind as a coach,” he said. “In a timely fashion, we are getting better.”

He said that more practice time spent on doubles teams has paid dividends already. This is an area that could have helped the Knights last year in the NCAA tournament when they lost all three doubles matches en route to a 5-3 season-ending defeat by the College of New Jersey.

All that remains now is for the Knights to, as Chen said, “Keep it going in a positive trajectory” all the way through the season.

Tennis rebounds after tough loss

Geneseo’s women’s tennis team won their last two regular season matches, finishing 8-1 on the season.

Read More

Tennis falls to Rochester

The Geneseo women’s tennis team continued their season with a 9-0 win over SUNY Fredonia on Sept. 22, but lost a difficult match to the University of Rochester on Sept. 28, 3-6.

Read More