The Coyote women’s tennis team is looking to take the experience it gained from its fall invitational schedule and put it to work this spring.
The team, which was predicted to finish fourth in the seven-team Summit League according to the preseason coaches poll released Jan. 15, will kick off its season Jan. 31 at Valparaiso.
“We used the fall to gain experience, get ready for academics, do strength and conditioning and hit one-on-one,” head coach Malcolm Gilreath said.
The fall season also gave the first-years their first taste of playing NCAA
Division I tennis.
“The fall went well,” Gilreath said. “We played some tough tournaments, but we had a good solid schedule with some tough wins.”
As the team moves from its fall invitational schedule to its spring dual schedule, the women are getting ready to compete as a team, rather than just individually.
“Individual flights still matter, but now it’s us against them,” Gilreath said.
Sophomore Milica Pavlovic said she’s ready for the competitive part of the season to start.
“I can’t wait for our first meet,” she said. “Our last meet was in October, so I’m ready to compete with our full team.”
In their first weekend of competition, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, the Coyotes will face Valparaiso, Utah State and Chicago State.
“They’ll be competitive matches, so the big thing for us is to focus on our doubles and our communication with each other,” Gilreath said.
Junior Rymma Maslova said the first weekend of play is more than just about winning to her.
“Of course I want to win, but more than anything, I’m just looking for a good game,” Maslova said. “From there, I can fix my weaknesses.”
The women saw Valparaiso and Chicago State in the fall, but it will be the first time they’ll see Utah State this year.
“When you’re playing a team you’ve never seen, our goal is to just focus on us and our strengths and weaknesses,” Gilreath said. “We have a good core returning, but we also have a good group that came in this year, so we’ll have a nice mix.”
Pavlovic said the team also benefits from each member’s full support of each other.
“We’re really close to each other, so we’re always giving each other support,” she said. “We all have different styles, so we’re collectively good in all aspects of the game. We’re also really strong in our bottom flights.”
Maslova echoed Pavlovic’s thoughts on the team’s support.
“We work as a team well, and all support our teammates,” Maslova said. “We believe in each other. We work pretty hard, so we should be good this season.”
The Coyotes’ only home match is April 12 against Nebraska-Omaha.
Follow reporter Kayla Prasek on Twitter @kprasek