Tennis ready to open new season

Poised and ready to compete, the women’s tennis team is eagerly awaiting Saturday as they host the Bowling Green State University Invitational at Keefe Courts.

The match is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and the Falcons look forward to ending problem-plagued practices and start what looks to be a promising season.

“Rain has hurt us. We’ve already missed five practices in two weeks, so that has given us a slow starting,” Coach Penny Dean said. “But we haven’t missed any lifting or conditioning so endurance should be a big help this season … The team is psyched about opening up on our own courts.”

Expecting a competitive match, Dean said she also realizes the importance of establishing an identity for a team who holds high expectations.

“We’re still figuring out what our best match-ups should be in doubles, but we’re returning our number one doubles team from last year so that will be there for us,” Dean said. “The beginning of the season is an opportunity to get back in the groove of playing, and it also allows for us to be creative and try some different doubles combinations … . Though this is our first competition, we could win every flight if we really focus and concentrate the way we know we can.”

Finishing fifth last year in the MAC with an overall 10-11 record was a step in the right direction for the Falcons, who two years ago were well below the .500 mark.

Lisa Maloney, who has earned three letters, has already proven herself as one of the team’s finest.

“We’re improving. I think we will do pretty well this year. We did a good job recruiting, and we’ll be really motivated. We can probably finish better than last year, maybe even third or fourth or possibly even higher in the MAC. I’m going out there to prove myself to everyone and to myself,” Maloney said.

As this year’s schedule offers several challenging matches, the Falcons will have to fly high to avoid falling to the league’s top teams, as well as two-time defending MAC champion Marshall.

“Xavier will be strong this year, they have a lot of returning players. Northern Illinois has beat us the last two years and both of those matches finished very close, so that’s also one we would really like to turn around for us. Marshall always plays well, they have a strong program and face a tough schedule every year. We would also like to hurdle past teams like Western Michigan this season. We have never beaten Michigan so that would definitely be a big, big victory,” Dean said.

Despite ending last season by winning four out of their last five matches, the team realizes the difficulty of continuing such an aggressive pace.

“Last year’s strong finish isn’t exactly a huge carry-over overall, but it should help our confidence going into the start of the season,” Dean said. “One of our big goals is to just get used to playing matches again, and getting in the flow of things and on track of competing again.”

If weather is an issue, the match will be relocated indoors at the Shadow Valley courts in Maumee.