Summer is coming to an end with athletes’ delight. It’s that time of year where New Paltz’s tennis team gears up, aiming for another conference championship. As defending champs, ranked 22nd in the Northeast last year, the girls are confident at the beginning of their season, even with the loss of talented seniors Stephanie Schara and Lindsey Garyn.
“The team has changed, but we have a very strong core of juniors returning,” Coach Robert Bruley said. “They know what it takes to get the job done and secure the win.”
Bruley said that while Geneseo remains the team to beat, the competition is itching to play New Paltz. Conference teams, like last weekend’s match against Oswego, are expected to fall to New Paltz, leaving them with nothing to lose. Bruley has stepped up the team’s pre-season training and conditioning with two-a-days, up to five hours to focus on tennis, endurance and agility.
“Everybody that plays New Paltz raises their game because we’re a big deal in Div. III tennis,” said Bruley. “We’ve got to be careful that we’re not complacent.”
Despite intense competition, the girls are eager to get into the season and put to use all of their pre-season practice.
“I’m really excited about [the season],” said third- year captain Kayla DiPaulo. “We’re all competing against each other for a spot which makes me more confident that we’re going to do well during the season.”
DiPaulo worked with the same doubles partner her first two years at New Paltz, but her biggest challenge this season will be facing the opposition partnered with first year student, Devin Tracy. DiPaulo is counting on her team’s chemistry and talent to lead them back to a SUNYAC championship.
“We had a great team last year and I loved our seniors, but I don’t think there was as much team chemistry as we have this year,” DiPaulo said. “I feel like everyone cheering each other on will make us more confident and kind of intimidate the other team.”
Their confidence and reported chemistry is already taking effect. After sweeping Oswego 9-0 this past Saturday, the girls are only more excited for competition. The first five teams New Paltz will play are SUNYAC conference teams, an ambitious and challenging beginning.
“I was a little nervous [Saturday] morning, but once I got on the court I was fine,” said Tracy. “I’m excited for the season. I don’t know what’s ahead of me, but I’m excited to have this experience.”
Tracy is confident in her doubles ability, but hopes to push herself hard enough to secure a spot on the team’s singles lineup.
“Our workouts and practices are paying off because we’re playing really well,” said Tracy. “We always try to motivate each other. We’re all on the same page – we all want to do well and stay positive.”
Coach Bruley’s hard work during recruiting season has resulted in a talented, motivated team that is ready and excited to compete against each other for a spot.
“We’re bringing in starting freshmen,” he said. “If the best is better, then they will play.”