By JEREMY JORDAN
This past Saturday, the University of Mary Washington Women’s Tennis team reigned victoriously after their first two matches of the season. Their opponents, George Mason University and Methodist College, won as many sets as the spectators did.
The Eagles opened up their season by sweeping George Mason in the morning and followed it up by showing Methodist the same hospitality in winning every match later that afternoon.
The toughest match of the day in doubles featured UMW freshman Jessica Armes and junior Amy Sheetz facing Methodist senior Leighton Bull and freshman Kaitlin Flaherty. In a back and forth match the Eagles’ tandem got some particularly strong net play to hold on for an 8-6 win.
Just minutes later many of the same players were right back out on the court for their singles matches.
The girls seemed unfazed by the amount of play.
“I played four matches, two doubles and two singles. It wasn’t too bad,” junior co-captain Becky Morse-Karzen said of her day’s work. “Of course you get tired when you work hard, but I’m used to worse.”
As play resumed the Eagles continued to dominate the Methodist Monarchs. In the singles matches, the match of the day was a showdown between Eagles’ junior Stephanie Kurti and Methodist senior Tiffany Tucker.
They played a heated and emotional first set highlighted by high quality tennis. Fittingly the set was decided in a tie-breaker. Kurti was visibly more relaxed during the tiebreaker as she hit solid ground strokes which were eventually followed by Tucker’s unforced errors. Kurti won the tiebreaker easily, 7-1. Kurti’s momentum translated into a 6-2 second set and a victory.
Although the day didn’t prove to be much of a challenge, the Eagles were still able to take away many positive things from the day.
“This was the first time we got to unleash our competitiveness against the other team,” senior co-captain Katie Miglin said.
Coach Patrick Catullo used the same word when explaining what they gained from today.
“Competitiveness. You find out who’s a competitor and who’s not. We look at everything from how they cheer to how well they hit forehands and backhands,” he said. “It’s a lot, it’s like an overload, you just kind of take it all in and evaluate it, make small changes, and go from there.
The Eagles tend to start out with Division I competition to try and test themselves without the chance of hurting their ranking.
Miglin and Morse-Karzen as co-captains will look to lead the Eagles this year. For Morse-Karzen it is her first year as captain. “It’s a great honor. So far everything’s going real smooth and we’re working really well together and we’re having a blast,” she said of the tandem.
When asked about the possibility of added pressure on herself as a captain, she said that, “Leadership is something I enjoy doing, so I don’t think of it as an added responsibility, I think of it as a bonus.”
This year, the entire team is sharing in their responsibilities as all of the girls have signed a “mission statement” listing their goals for the year.
Included in these goals are improved communication, improved responsibility, improving hard work, and becoming a championship team.
The Conference Championship shouldn’t be too difficult for the Eagles.
“We should be strong once again in the Conference,” Catullo said. “I hope that we don’t lose the conference for a long while.”
If the Eagles have a rival, according to Miglin, “it’s Salisbury, but every time we play them we go 9-0, our conference is kind of weak so we go out of conference for better competition.”
Morse-Karzen echoed that sentiment. “Our conference competition hasn’t always been great but we do play other top 10 schools such as Washington and Lee, Emory, and Denison.”
All these extra matches and extra practices will hopefully produce an Elite Eight appearance for the Eagles which is their top goal.
Because of all the extra hours being put in, Miglin sees the team having a successful season. As she sees it, “We’re all in it for the long haul.”