Behind Welch, tennis heads into spring season

Published by Brendan Howe, Author: Brendan Howe - Senior Rocket Contributor , Date: February 7, 2019
Senior Allie Welch returns a serve in a match during her freshman season. Welch is the only senior on this season's team.

With the spring portion of her team’s schedule having gotten underway, senior Allie Welch is forging into her final three months as part of the Slippery Rock University women’s tennis team.

Welch began this season seeking improvement upon her junior season, which was her best statistical effort at The Rock. 

She started the 2017-18 campaign by getting off to nine wins in her first 11 singles matches, and she ended the year with a career-high 16 victories.

Her success was not limited to individual play. In doubles, she posted a 9-3 mark, including a triumph against St. Bonaventure and a Division I pairing.

Opening the season, Welch was matched with both Amy Varckette and Olivia Warner at the Oberlin Invitational. 

It wasn’t long before she was again coupled with sophomore Lauren Fadden, who she had gone 6-2 alongside last year, at the ITA Atlantic Region Championships. The partnership once again proved effective, closing the fall with three straight victories.

Arriving in Slippery Rock in 2015, it was her doubles skills that Welch felt needed sharpened most. 

She had focused on singles at Highland High School in Medina, Ohio, where she was chosen as an all-county honoree four times and steered her Hornets to a Suburban League championship. 

In addition, she was rated No. 10 in the country in 2013 while part of the United States Tennis Association (UTSA) 18-and-under junior team.

Although October’s schedule lasted a span of only two home matchups, against Kutztown and Millersville, Welch was dominant. She claimed both of her singles matches decisively, conceding only one point in four sets.

As well as possessing a good forehand and consistent serving abilities inside the fences, Allie is a level-headed, calming guide that leads by example, such as working over break to better her deliveries.

“This year, she’s really brought the team together in a way that we’re having a lot of fun and working extremely hard,” Slippery Rock head coach Matt Meredith said. “Her leadership abilities have been foremost, helping this team tremendously. She knows what the team needs and when they need it. She pretty much is the voice of the team, to me.”

While not volleying bright green orbs, Allie is steady in the classroom. 

The marketing and finance major has been named as a PSAC scholar athlete each year she has wielded a racket for the Green and White.

Beside Welch are junior Lacey Cohen, an All-PSAC Western Division honoree, and freshman Lois Page, a native of Guisborough, England. 

Cohen, who has 76 career wins and is on pace to join SRU’s 100-win club, claimed the PSAC singles title this past October. 

Page has gone 5-2 in singles as of late, along with competing in the league’s doubles championship with partner Viola Lugmayr.

Speaking about Page, the team’s lone freshman, Meredith said that after the fall, she’s no longer “truly” a freshman. 

Meredith said Page has the experience and has developed well as a player and person since coming to The Rock in August.

Welch said she has numerous goals this season, not only for herself, but for the entire team.

“As an individual, I want to keep improving my doubles and just play my best. It’s my last year so I have nothing to lose in giving it all on the court,” Welch said. “As a team, we want to make regionals and beat some good teams that maybe, in the past, we haven’t been able to beat. Teams that have weakened, I guess.”

Meredith disagreed.

“Teams haven’t weakened,” said Meredith, with a smile. “We’ve gotten better.”