By STEVE SILVERTHORNE
The University of Mary Washington women’s tennis team fell to No. 14 Carnegie Mellon University 5-4. In an exciting game where the Eagles erased a 4-0 deficit to tie the team score at 4-4, UMW ran out of gas in the in the final match to lose 5-4.
The Eagles competed in three invitationals this fall, using them as tune-ups for the more rigorous spring season. UMW ended last season ranked 23rd in the nation and made it through to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The women’s team has high hopes for the spring 2012 season, and Head Coach Patrick Catullo said he thinks his Lady Eagles have a shot to replicate last year’s success.
“The talent is there,” Catullo said. “The players just need to go into this off-season with a good work ethic and a great attitude, and must continue adjusting. They have to believe in themselves as well as each other.”
Catullo added he was very pleased with how the fall campaign turned out, and that he wished they could have had a couple more weeks of playing so they could continue heading in the right direction.
Senior Michelle Meadows agreed with her coach’s assessment, and thinks the Eagles have a strong spring season ahead of them.
Meadows says that the key to that is “as long as everyone stays in shape and works hard this offseason, then [we] should have no problem being successful from the get-go come January.”
The Eagles tennis team capped off a successful fall season this past weekend at the Hampton Roads Collegiate Invitational in Newport News, Va., with sophomore Lindsay Raulston winning her singles bracket. Raulston defeated Stef Ton of Navy, 6-3, 6-3. In Raulston’s next match, she won again, this time 7-6, 6-1, against Sallie Griffin of Washington & Lee. Raulston finished off her bracket when she took a 2-6, 7-6, 10-6 victory over Delaware’s Olivia Heim. Raulston’s bracket victory is even more impressive because it was a tournament that featured many Division I teams, and Mary Washington was one of only two Division III teams competing.
Even with the loss of four seniors from last year’s nationally ranked team, the Eagles still have leadership in key returning seniors, with Meadows, Casey Malcolm, and Jocelyn Lewis.
The Eagles have a young team overall, and Meadows said that the main priority for the fall season was to start to come together as a unit.
“[We needed] to make sure all of the girls were close and worked well together, in order to create a successful and supportive team for the spring,” Meadows said. “We have a really young team who [people] will see many of great things from in the future.”
The Eagles season will start back up in the middle of February with their annual Alumni Match on Feb. 11. The first real competition for the women’s tennis team will be on Feb. 19 when they host George Mason University.