The Slippery Rock women’s tennis team returns to action this weekend in Oberlin, Ohio to compete in the Oberlin Invitational.
Returning mostly the same squad from last season, head coach Matt Meredith begins his 21st season in charge of Rock tennis. Already the most storied coach in program history with a 301-169 (.640) record, Meredith hopes to, “do well, make the conference tournament and make the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAAs),” Meredith said.
Looking back at last season, the Green and White hovered around .500, and finished 13-13 with a 4-2 record in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) play. A first-round exit in the PSAC tournament to rival Mercyhurst University followed by a first-round exit in the NCAA tournament to the University of Charleston left The Rock with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Losing senior leader Carla Corrochando Moracho is offset by the addition of international standout Lois Page. Page, a freshman from Guisborough, England, has been ranked as high as 99th in all of England U18 women’s tennis.
“To make sure our freshman is no longer a freshman by the time fall is done,” Meredith said, regarding the fall season. “Lois Page is our only freshman on this team, a very talented player from England. We need to get her some experience, get her used to playing at this level.”
The Rock returns junior Lacey Cohen, sophomore Lauren Fadden, junior Viola Lugmayr, sophomore Amy Varckette, sophomore Olivia Warner and senior Allie Welch.
“I’m going to say the team is the star player right now. Lacey is coming into her junior year and she’s a star. Viola is in her second year and had a great season last year. I am looking to see her do much better this year. [Lois], she’s going to be something for us as well,” Meredith gushed. “I think the person with the most wins for us last year was Lauren Fadden. Last year was a really good learning year for Olivia Warner and those things will transition to a better season this year. Ally is my lone senior and captain, she’s playing very strong right off the bat. We have great depth, Amy Varckette is in the mix of things too.”
Meredith views the fall semester as the chance for the women to condition their bodies better while collecting a few early wins before the PSAC Individual Championships in late September. The Rock will head off to the Championships after hosting Daemen College for a non-conference clash on September 23rd.
“We have to got to stay injury free,” Meredith said. “The big thing right now is conditioning, especially in this heat. Just make sure we are stronger, faster and ready to be on the court and take care of business.”
In the spring semester, Meredith looks forward to seeing how The Rock compete against fellow PSAC West giants in Indiana University (Pa.) and Mercyhurst University. Two defeats to Mercyhurst University and being shutout against Indiana University (Pa.) in last season’s PSAC play left the Green and White desperate to prove last season was a fluke.
“In the spring, I want to see how we do against the top tiers IUP and Mercyhurst,” Meredith said. “I want to see how we do against those teams. Our conference in the West is tough. I’m really looking forward to seeing once we get into the end of March and we get into the PSAC matches and seeing where we are at.”
A mixture of veteran leadership, talented underclassmen and a dynamic freshman has Meredith hopeful of a deeper run into the PSAC and NCAA tournaments this spring. Despite a ho-hum 13-13 overall record, The Rock posted an encouraging combined singles record of 106-72 (.596) and a combined doubles record of 51-38 (.573). The sky is the limit for this group of motivated women.
“Pretty high,” Meredith said, considering his overall goals, “I think we should do pretty well. I would think we should be in the top three of our Western side [of the PSAC]. We’d be first on the Eastern side of the PSAC, I will throw that out there.”
Regardless of premature expectations or early season pessimism, Meredith believes in this season’s squad and knows the onus falls on the talented group of women to believe in themselves now.
“I know what they can do. Once they start believing in what they can do, we are going to take off,” Meredith said.