The past couple of weeks have been quite eventful for the Elizabethtown College men’s and women’s tennis teams. Over spring break, the teams headed to Hilton Head Island, SC to compete against several teams, as well as to spend some quality time together as a team. The teams were both successful during the trip, with the women’s team finishing 5-0 and the men’s 3-2.
Coach Matt Helsel is very proud of how the teams have been playing this season and believes their success is due to the teams’ experience. “We’ve got a group of juniors that start on both teams that have all been playing since they were freshmen,” Helsel said. “It’s their third consecutive year of playing, and they are starting to become pretty experienced and mature.”
The women’s team was especially motivated to win, as they went up against two teams that beat them last year. They were looking forward to spending some quality time with their team, as well as righting some wrongs, and proving that they were ready this time.
The team, as well as the coaches, also had time over spring break to bond. “We mostly enjoyed the beautiful weather,” Helsel said. “It was the best weather week we’ve had for spring break in 11 years, so we really enjoyed that.” The team had a lot of bonding time during the trip, which is something that the coaches, as well as the players, really enjoy. Sophomore Joseph Kirchner said, “I would have to say the best part of break was just spending time together to get closer as a team, whether that be through matches, team dinners or playing some beach football.”
As soon as the teams arrived back on campus, they had to start preparing for their upcoming matches, the women’s team especially because they had a match last Thursday against Muhlenberg College and another on Saturday against Wilkes University.
The team was looking forward to their match against Muhlenberg as they had lost to them last year. This year, however, the Jays came out on top with a score of 6-3. Although the Jays had a rough start (they lost their first doubles match of the season to the Mules), they quickly regained momentum when the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles beat the Mules 8-6 in their matches. In doing so, the Jays beat the Mules for the first time since April 12, 2007 and brought their all-time record against the Muhlenberg to 9-7.
In response to how her teammates played, first-year Haley Kearns said, “I could tell everyone was being tough; they want to win and will always try their hardest. They don’t give up.”
Unfortunately, the Jays could not continue to keep the momentum in their match against Wilkes on Saturday. Although the Jays were confident with their 6-0 winning streak, Wilkes came prepared with a 9-0 streak of their own. The Jays won one of three in doubles play with juniors Alena Marani and Kristi Noecker winning 9-7 over Wilkes’ No. 2 pairing. The singles matches also favored the Lady Colonels, although the Jays did give them a challenge.
However, Etown was able to rebound from their loss with a 6-3 win against Scranton March 21. Although the women’s team may no longer be undefeated, both they, and the men’s team, have a very promising season ahead of them.
“The teams get along very well, and most of them have been on the teams so long that they get to know each other really well,” Helsel said. “We’re two teams but one program, so the girls come cheer on the guys for their games and vice versa, so it’s a really good atmosphere to have other people who like and care about you always rooting for you.”