Following a solid show in this year’s fall portion of the season, the Slippery Rock University’s tennis team is looking to make an impact in the spring portion the schedule.
The team is composed of two all-conference juniors from a year ago, three experienced seniors and several talented underclassmen that have head coach Matt Meredith very excited.
“We need to be consistent in how we play, get our intensity up, those kind of things. If we play with intensity and play how we’re capable of playing, we should be okay,” Meredith said. “Everyone else is good too though, so we’ll see how things play out here. Getting started here and getting going here are going to be really important to getting our intensity up.”
The team went 1-0 in team competitions this spring with several athletes performing well at various individual tournaments. Headlining The Rock this fall were juniors Carla Corrochano Moracho and Nina Barbano.
Corrochano Moracho went 9-3 in individual matches, making it all the way to the semifinals of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) individual championship before she had to withdraw due to injury. Barbano went 5-1 individually with her only fall loss coming at the hands of Mercyhurst University’s Saioa Gomez de Segura, who went on to win the individual championship this fall.
Corrochano Moracho and Barbano were both All-PSAC selections following last spring’s season and Barbano is looking to have another good season this year.
“I’m just excited to continue to do everything I did last year better this year,” Barbano said. “I think we’re going to be really good this year, get a lot further than last year and we’re just building a stronger team.”
Barbano said she has been working to improve the strength of her serve and her overall fitness.
Others looking to contribute this season are seniors Stephanie Fortier, Tiffany Kollah and Kylee Woodman, sophomores Allie Welch and Amanda Bruscemi and freshman Lacey Cohen.
Fortier, the team’s captain, thinks this is the most potential of any team she has been apart of in her time at The Rock.
“Honestly, we have the potential to win it all if we really put our minds to it,” Fortier said. “We’re going to have to work hard but I think we definitely can do it. I would definitely agree that this is definitely the strongest I’ve seen the team in my four years of being here.”
Fortier finished the fall season with a 2-3 individual record and a 4-3 doubles record, playing alongside her fellow senior Woodman. Woodman and Kollah both finished the fall with .500 records, with Woodman finishing 2-2 and Kollah finishing 3-3. Kollah and Welch had a tough go of it in doubles competitions, going 1-3, and Welch individually finished 1-3. Bruscemi also finished at 3-3 individually, and finished 4-2 in doubles playing alongside Barbano.
Cohen was a highly touted three-star prospect coming out of Fox Chapel high school and she played well in her first collegiate action, going 4-3 individually and 6-2 paired with Corrochano Moracho.
“The fall season was good practice and I’m excited to start the spring season,” Cohen said. “I think as a team we’ve gotten a lot closer. Me and Carla have developed a good partnership so I’m excited to play conference matches and travel as a team.”
Meredith said he plans to keep the doubles pairings the same as they were in the fall, with Cohen and Corrochano Moracho, Barbano and Bruscemi, Fortier and Woodman and Kollah and Welch.
Barbano had played with Bruscemi for much of last season and exclusively in the fall and said she really enjoys the pairing.
“We’re really comfortable together, we play really well together,” Barbano said. “It’s really nice because she’s my friend too and we’re roommates and we get along really well. It’s really nice.”
The team will open up the 2017 spring season with games against division-III Carnegie Mellon University and division-I schools St. Bonaventure University and Lafayette College. Meredith said he expects tough competition from all three opponents and hopes that playing higher competition early will help his team to be more intense when they head into the games over spring break and then into the conference schedule.
The first home match of the season will not come until March 25 when the team returns from its spring break trip to South Carolina, where they are scheduled to play seven matches.
It looks like the perfect storm of talent and experience this spring for The Rock, but in a tough conference like the PSAC, nothing is guaranteed.