After suffering losses against Cornerstone and Hillsdale on Oct. 3 and 4, the SVSU women’s tennis team had just two matchups left before ending the fall season.
Coach Ryan Ruzziconi said that the weekend’s defeats were simply part of the process on the road to success.
“Overall, I thought it could have been better, but those are the growing pains of a team,” he said. “Where we fell short was in our doubles play in both matches this weekend, as not winning the crucial doubles point means there is more pressure on our singles play. So that will continue to be a point of emphasis the rest of the Fall season.”
While finding room for growth, Ruzziconi also found many strengths to be acknowledged.
“I thought our freshmen did very well this past weekend – with Elizabeth Stuart, Andrea Teofilovic, and Alexis Anthes sweeping their singles matches on Saturday, and then Stuart teaming with junior Chelsea Dzenga at 2 Doubles for a nice win on Saturday,” he said.
Saturday’s home contest against Cornerstone ended in a 4-3 loss, while the next day’s matchup at Hillsdale brought a 6-1 loss. Beyond the loss, Sunday also brought several small victories for SVSU.
“… Anthes teamed with Emma Charlton at 3 doubles for a nice win on Sunday,” he said. “Freshman Irene Latorre Barreiro also battled in her singles match on Sunday taking a very good Hillsdale player to a third set tiebreaker. We definitely see a bright future for this team.”
Going into the final weekend of the fall season, Ruzziconi said that both Walsh and Findlay would be worthy competition. “They are both quality tennis programs,” he said. “Walsh was one of the top teams in the GMAC last season so they will be tough.”
SVSU ended up losing 6-1 to Walsh in the home matchup on Oct. 8.
The Cardinals managed to take the No. 3 singles matchup, with junior Sara Neves winning in a third-set tiebreaker. Walsh swept the five remaining singles matches and all three doubles matches.
Based on experience, Ruzziconi knew that Saturday’s faceoff against Findlay would prove similarly difficult.
“We played Findlay this past spring in Ohio, and we were very competitive with them, so I expect a close match,” he said.
SVSU ended up on the losing end of a 6-1 match once again dropping to Findlay at home on Oct. 9.
Senior Nicole Johnson took the No. 4 singles match point, winning in a tiebreaker like Neves the day before.
As the team begins a several months hiatus from collegiate competition, Ruzziconi says his hopes are still high for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) season.
“My goals and expectations for this team when the GLIAC season begins in March have not changed,” he said. “Our team is almost exactly where I thought they would be from a win/loss perspective and team development perspective in the fall. While we clearly have work to do over the next couple of months to prepare for the GLIAC schedule, I am very happy with the steps we are taking as a team and a program. It’s a process, it’s not always fast, but we are on the path to building a contender here.”
Matches will resume on Mar. 18, 2022, when SVSU hosts Northwood beginning the GLIAC conference season.