After having matches cancelled two weekends in a row, the University of South Dakota women’s tennis team will wrap up its regular season play April 16 in Green Bay, Wis., with matches against University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Chicago State University.
The team was originally scheduled to play April 2 against University of North Dakota and April 9 against University of Missouri-Kansas City. Both matches were cancelled due to inclement weather, head coach Malcolm Gilreath said.
Gilreath said he’s excited for his team to get some competitive play in this weekend.
“The Chicago State match is a Great West Conference meet, so that’s an important meet for us because seeding is involved in that for the season-ending tournament,” Gilreath said. “They only have four players on their team, but they’re good, so that will be very competitive. Then we play University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. They’re a good team out of the Horizon League and they’ll be very competitive. We have a good chance to do very well in both meets.”
Sophomore Veronika Makashov said that while the weekend may be challenging for the women, it will give them the matches they need to be ready for the Great West Championship.
“It’s going to be a little bit hard because they are good teams and our line-up is a little bit different than usual, but I think if we all fight and play our best we can come out on top,” Makashov said. “If we just keep practicing things that weren’t going well before, I think we can come out successful.”
The last few weeks have been challenging, Gilreath said, between the weather and injuries on the team.
“We’ve been bothered by weather quite a bit so what we’ve been doing is working some on conditioning,” Gilreath said. “We’ve had some illnesses and injuries on the team too, so basically what we’ve been doing is trying to heal up and get ready for the conference meet.”
Freshman Maddy Warder said the team is working hard to be match-ready by Saturday.
“We’re all working hard right now and getting back into the swing of things,” Warder said. “Playing outside is way different that playing inside obviously. We’re trying to have good practices and hit whenever we can. A couple girls come out in the afternoon after classes and play or serve to get used to the elements.”
While they haven’t played competitively for nearly three weeks, Makashov said the time off could give the team an advantage Saturday.
“I think the rest was really good for all of us,” Makashov said. “We were getting a little burnt out at the end of the season; that happens to everyone, every year. I feel like we have all this energy now and are ready to go and play our best.”
Gilreath said he’s stressing to his players that they have the potential to beat anyone they’re paired against.
“We’re looking for individual match-ups and how we’re going to individually match up with each person,” Gilreath said. “As we go through the season, we’re noticing that just because a girl from one team beats a girl doesn’t mean you’re going to win or lose, because you may have the game to beat that person, which is great.”
With three weeks left in the season and the team’s injuries healing, Gilreath said he thinks it’s time for the team to peak.
“I’d like to come out of there and see what we can do,” Gilreath said. “They’re good teams; we’re a good team. We’re healing up. If we play to our potential we could come out with some victories. We’re ready.”
Reach reporter Kayla Prasek at Kayla.M.Prasek@usd.edu.