The State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz Tennis season is in full swing, with a recent 9-0 victory on Saturday, Sept. 17 over Brockport.
Last year the Hawks had a successful season, earning a ranking in the top 20 women’s Division III tennis teams in the Northeast for the first time. This year, the team and Head Coach Robert Bruley hope to hold on to that ranking, which according to Bruley, is not an easy feat.
“The Northeast is the powerhouse nationally for Division III Women’s Tennis,” Bruley said. “I would consider it a major success if we can consolidate our position amongst some of the best teams in the country.”
According to Bruley, most of the top 10 teams in the nation come from the Northeast, with the national champion Williams atop of the pile.
While the ranking is important, Bruley said that it is the least of the teams priorites.
“Our focus is to win the SUNYAC Conference championships. Over the past eight years we have either won the conference or have been in second place,” Bruley said. “By winning the conference this will enable us to qualify for the NCAA national Div III championships.”
Bruley said he believes the competition in the SUNYAC will be the Hawks greatest challenge.
With competition coming from Geneseo, Cortland and Oneonta, Bruley said the team can’t afford to slip up during the tournament.
“Although last year we didn’t win the tournament, it was one of our most successful seasons,” he said. “We finished the year 14-3 beating some very good teams along the way.”
Last season, the team had a completely new doubles line up and had to bolster the singles line up as seniors graduated. Regardless, the team had a strong season and and said they hope to continue their strong one so far.
Fourth-year team captain Stephanie Schara was surprised at the teams’ initial caliber. Her first approach was to be “a drill sergeant,” but as camp opened, the team surprised her.
“I was going to make the girls’ lives a living hell to whip them into shape. Little did I know they would come in super fit and hitting the ball cleaner than ever,” Schara said. “Most importantly, now that their individual confidence has been built up, we’ve all really come together as a team. The chemistry and work ethic is absolutely out of this world.”
Bruley agreed with Schara about the team’s confidence and ability this year.
“The work ethic of the team is remarkable. Every practice they are trying to improve both in their tennis abilities and in their off court conditioning,” he said. “Every match they know they are expected to give 100 percent and if by giving 100 percent of total effort results in a win then that’s great if they give 100 percent and get beaten then that’s fine knowing they have given everything is what is expected of each student athlete.”