by Cat Tacopina and Kaycia Sailsman
The SUNY New Paltz Tennis team has started their season with a 7-2 loss to St. Lawrence University on March 9 and a trip to Florida planned for spring break.
The Hawks enter the spring leg of their competitive year coming off another successful fall season, where they fell in the SUNYAC Tournament to conference rival SUNY Geneseo. Unlike the fall, the Hawks will play non-conference teams in the spring.
“Our spring schedule is stronger than our fall schedule, which mainly consists of conference play,” Head Coach Robert Bruley said.
Bruley said the team is dedicating practice time in the spring to bettering their doubles play. He said doubles are the “Achille’s heel” of the team and was what caused the Lady Hawk’s loss to St. Lawrence.
“Even in the greats like the Williams sisters and Sharapova, doubles are not good for them,” Bruley said. “It’s something even professionals face, but if we can make our doubles teams that much stronger, we’ll be even more competitive as a team come match time.”
Third-year captain Kayla Dipaulo said along with doubles, she hopes to improve on her individual skills which she said will help her win some of the more difficult matches the team will face.
“Some of my personal goals this season are to hit the ball hard while still staying consistent, and winning some of my harder matches,” Dipaulo said.
Bruley said the Lady Hawks are “ready” for the upcoming season and are focusing on conditioning and timing. The team is also preparing for the spring season by getting into a competitive mental frame of mind.
“I think what the girls really like about the spring season is that the teams we face are more difficult and none of these matches will come easily for us,” Bruley said.
Bruley said the spring is also a good way to train for the fall and the SUNYAC championships.
“Although [they] are in October, we can start preparing tactically and getting ourselves physically fit to play,” Bruley said.
Although the Lady Hawks are playing tougher teams, Bruley said the team would rather this and lose than play teams they are expected to beat.
“In the fall, we’re the big match for most of the teams we face,” Bruley said. “We walk around with a bullseye on our backs because everybody wants to beat us. It’s good for us in the spring because we aren’t viewed that way with the schools we play.”
The team will face Div. III heavyweight The College of New Jersey this season, which Bruley said is an “honor” for the team.
“They asked to play us,” Bruley said. “Them asking to play us shows how far we’ve come as a program and that some of the best teams in the country think we would be a good challenge for them. And we’re not going to lie down in these matches and not put up a fight when it comes time to play them.”