The Lady Catamount tennis team went to Richmond, Kentucky, this weekend to compete in their first three matches of the spring season at Eastern Kentucky. WCU fell in their first two matches against Wright State and Eastern Kentucky but was able to overcome Georgetown for their first victory of the season.
Just off the bus, Western took on Wright State on Friday afternoon. Wright State jumped all over the Lady Cats early and took the match 7-0. In the top-seeded singles match, Freshman Kristin Munn took WSU’s Leslie Marcum to three sets, but eventually fell 2-6, 6-1, 0-6.
Head coach Jan Stubbs felt the team was uncomfortable in their opening match against Wright State, citing the surface and their first competition as key aspects to their loss.
“I think in the first match against Wright State they were a little nervous and rusty,” she said. “These were our only matches indoors all year, and they weren’t used to it.”
Saturday came with much more success for the Lady Cats. Their morning match pitted the squad against host Eastern Kentucky. Freshman Shannon Zalinski opened Western’s scoring with a victory over Kelli Williams in three sets, 6-1, 4-6, 10-5. Junior Emmy King also won her singles match with Andi Hill in a tightly-contested match-up, 7-6, 4-6, 12-10.
King and Munn also triumphed in doubles play as they topped Tara Williams and Kelli Williams 9-7. Despite these victories, Western was still not able to overcome Eastern Kentucky and fell by three points.
WCU finally put it all together in the afternoon against Georgetown with a 5-2 win, their first of the spring season. Munn opened the day with a victory over Julie Miller while Zalinski defeated Laura Morgan in singles play.
King also triumphed in her singles match over Haley Hurt in a dominant fashion by the score of 6-2, 6-1. Junior Amy Rex narrowly gained her first singles victory against Jamie Stewart 8-6 in a pro set.
Freshman Erin Johnson equaled Rex’s feat with a singles victory over Rebecca Quate. Johnson took the first set 6-4 and, while dropping the second 3-6, came back to win 6-3 in the third and clinch the Lady Catmount victory.
Stubbs admits she saw drastic improvement from each match as her players became accustomed to their surroundings and competitive play.
“After they got used to the indoor courts, you could see drastic improvement,” she said. “I think you could see we’re getting better with every match, especially having three freshman.”
The Lady Cats will have a busy Spring Break, playing seven matches in seven days beginning with Mercer University this Friday in Macon, Georgia. This stretch will include their first two conference match-ups of the year, playing on the road against Georgia Southern and the College of Charleston.
Stubbs feels both her and her players will have a good idea of their progress after this stretch is over. She looks to the two SoCon match-ups as the key matches over the break.
“We start off this week against Mercer, and that should give us some confidence,” she said. “Then we have two conference matches that will be a big test to see how we respond to conference play.”
They will finish up the week playing four non-conference matches in Hilton Head, SC, against Marist, Dayton, Coastal Carolina, and the University of California. Stubbs points to these contests as a good way to learn about her team, as well as to give her squad some much-needed experience.
“It’ll be nice to play different schools and get that experience without having those matches reflect on your conference standings,” she said.