If you are unfamiliar with the history of Rock tennis, there is one thing that you really need to know: this team makes it to the national stage.
This season’s team will not be the exception.
“Will we make it the nationals? Yes. I’ll put that out there right now,” Head coach Matt Meredith said. “That’s our goal every year and that’s what we do. We make nationals. We’re on a pace where we are going to have another eight-year run.”
From 2006 to 2014, Rock tennis clinched eight consecutive NCAA Tournament bids with four 20-plus win seasons and an appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2010.
Trading appearances with narrow misses over the past four seasons, this year’s squad has all the pieces and momentum to make some noise at a regional and national level.
Finishing the fall semester with a perfect record for the third consecutive season, boasting the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) singles champion and having each member of the squad hold a record of .500 or better shows the progress Rock tennis made in barely a month of play.
“I think we’re on task. We’re meeting what we were trying to do moving forward. Overall, how the fall went? I think it went very well. I think my freshman [Lois Page] is starting to play well and getting more comfortable being here. Having Lacey win the whole damn thing, that was beautiful. Things are starting to come together, and we don’t have a freshman on the team anymore,” Meredith said.
Starting the season with a 6-1 non-conference triumph of Daemen College, The Rock followed up by dropping just 25 points over the 18 matches played against Kutztown and Millersville University. 6-0 and 7-0 results propelled the Green and White to a 3-0 record.
Going 39-18 in singles play and 17-7 in doubles matches, The Rock finished the fall with a combined .700-win percentage.
Junior Lacey Cohen led the way with an 8-4 singles record while going 4-2 in doubles. Cohen’s doubles partner, sophomore Olivia Warner, dropped only two combined matches to go 8-1 and 6-1 in singles and doubles play, respectively.
The Rock’s no. 1 doubles team of junior Viola Lugmayr and freshman Lois Page showed out to the tune of a 6-2 doubles record.
Lugmayr finished the fall 8-2 while Cohen went 7-3 overall. The instant chemistry shown between the pair caught the eye of Meredith, but another athlete really wowed the veteran head coach – and for good reason.
“I’ll be honest, I thought the doubles team [Lugmayr and Page] had a very good shot at [the PSAC title] because they play really good doubles tennis together, but I also knew it was wide open. And, to have Lacey come through like that, it was a great surprise. Not an overwhelming surprise but a good surprise,” Meredith said.
Improving upon her quarterfinal’s appearance as a sophomore, Cohen ran rampant through the conference tournament with four straight-set victories to clinch the first-ever PSAC singles championship in Rock tennis history.
Lugmayr and Page both advanced past the first round but drew unfortunate opponents. Lugmayr squared off with Cohen in a contested contest and Page pushed eventual runner-up Katya Minchenkova to a third set.
The conditioning and experience Cohen, Lugmayr and Page gained in the three-day tournament will bode well for eventual PSAC West play against tough opponents like Indiana University (Pa.), California University (Pa.) and Mercyhurst University.
With each of Meredith’s goals accomplished in getting Page conditioned against some of the best opponents the region has to offer – and seeing her thrive – and having the perfect foundation set for a fast start in the spring semester, Rock tennis knows what is required now to continue their success.
“I think we’re playing well,” Meredith said. “We still need to get fit, we need to get stronger and faster and that’s what we are going to bust our butts doing right now. That’s the objective up until the end of the semester.”
No stranger to success with 14 PSAC and NCAA Tournament berths, Meredith expects this squad to be one of the best he has ever worked with.
“I’ll put it this way, we are going to give people a run for their money. I’m not going to say we are going to win the PSACs because it’s wide open. There are a lot of good teams out there, but we are one of them.”
The season will resume after a winter layoff in early February.