Although the Mercer Women’s Tennis Team has started off the season on a rocky note, its non-conference slate is fully preparing the players for their Southern Conference schedule. In its first five games, the team has been defeated by Arkansas University, Murray State University, University of Tennessee and Georgia Southern University. Although the matches have not turned out in the Bears’ favor, there have been a couple of doubles teams and individuals who have come out victorious.
Against the Georgia Southern Eagles, Haley Powell defeated Daria Vasekina 6-2, 6-3. Haley Powell and her partner Xandra Fougner defeated Georgia Southern’s Jordana Klein and Giulia Riepe 6-2. Mercer’s Laura Kelly and Liza Klyachkin defeated Francisca Norregaard and Daria Vasekina. This is the most successful that the team has been since its season began. Roxy Bartz, a junior on the team, is disappointed in the results so far, but she is excited to continue with the season.
“I am looking forward to being able to compete with this new team we have,” said Bartz. “We are really young and don’t have much experience, so it will be good to see how everyone does throughout the season.”
Bartz has been a valuable member of the team for the past two seasons. Last season alone, she contributed two wins against Savannah State University, Alabama State University, Northern Kentucky University and Fort Valley State University. Although Bartz is dissatisfied with the start of the season, she realizes that the team’s recent opponents are strong programs and that these games will help prepare them for their ongoing season.
“So far, we have played Arkansas and Tennessee, which are really solid teams,” said Bartz. “We think we can bounce back, especially against our rivals, Kennesaw State University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
As the Bears continue to face strong opponents in their non-conference schedule, the Southern Conference consists of tough competitors as well. Last year, the Samford University Bulldogs and the Elon University Phoenix faced off in the 2014 Southern Conference Women’s Tennis Championship. In the end, the Phoenix defeated the Bulldogs 4-2 to take home the ring. Although Elon and Samford will be tough competitors for the Bears, Bartz believes that the entire Southern Conference will be challenging for the Bears.
“I think each match in the SoCon is going to be a dogfight,” said Bartz. “I believe Samford is going to be tough win, but I am not exactly sure as to who the tough teams are in this particular conference.”
Bartz is only one of two upperclassmen on the team, and the rest consists of one sophomore and three freshmen. With such a young team, Bartz realizes that the freshmen are going to have to step up for the team to be successful.
“The freshmen that we have are really good players and they will play high in our lineup,” said Bartz. “We only have six players total, which means everyone is going to play at least one match every game day. So everyone is going to have to do their part to make this season a successful one.”
The Bears’ next game is Feb. 12 at the LeRoy Peddy Tennis Center on Mercer’s campus. They will compete against the Savannah State Tigers at 1 p.m. All Mercer students are welcome to attend.