The Seahawks tennis program has yet another success to celebrate as the girls’ season winds to its close. Most recently defeating Penn State Abington last Saturday 9-0, the girls have made Coach Derek Sabedra “very proud”. According to Sabedra, having “the best starts in many years” was certainly one of the factors that led the team to 3 out of 4 wins thus far, first defeating Chowan at Virginia Beach on September 18th with another 9-0, and the next day Virginia Wesleyan by 5-4.
The girls’ only loss has been against Catholic University of America (CUA), with a final score of 7-2 on the 26th. CUA has traditionally been very tough competition for the Seahawks, defeating them only in the final two matches last year. But the team retains their optimism; “It was a tough match and we played well” said sophomore Kathleen Lackler.
Additionally, the Seahawks are ranked 3rd in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC), behind only Mary Washington and Salisbury Universities, and last August earned 2009 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-Academic status.
Several factors have contributed to this season’s considerable success. First of all, this is “the best gelling team,” Sabedra said he has seen in the 4 years he has been coaching at St. Mary’s. This was the first year that conditioned together before the season started, going on team runs and holding captain’s practices.
“This says a lot about the captains, the motivation, and the inspiration,” said Sabedra, adding that “the captains basically were the coaches” before Sabedra and fellow coaches Giac Tran, Jason Wynn, and Joe Sochurek took over that first Monday.
How well the girls handle the stress of such a competitive sport also bespeaks the quality of the team. Tennis is a “really mental game”, says first year player Chelsea Bradcovich. “There is definitely a thinking aspect.”
Lackler said, “there is more mental planning than athleticism” and that states of mind can play a big role in the outcome of a match. “If I go in there knowing someone is really good or really bad, that’s going to affect the way I play,” she said, “but the more experience you have, the easier that aspect of the game becomes”.
Sabedra said he appreciates the intellect of the game, contrasting it to the “physicality of football and basketball” (the other two sports he coaches for local high schools) and the fact that girls in tennis tend to be very tactical and strategic. “They’re always thinking and are more precise”, which are important skills to have as a tennis player.
Their teamwork and strategy should help the girls in their upcoming matches against Shenandoah, Goucher, and Lancaster Bible, on October 9th, 11th, and 13th, respectively.