With spring break then approaching, the New Paltz tennis team was not thinking of relaxing.While they would be traveling to Florida, they were more focused on the competition that they would be facing there.
The team left early on the Friday before break started to head south to compete. Through a program called “Spring Break Sports,” the team matched up against the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Colby College, Merrimack College and Colorado College while only seeing defeat against Colby.
Before the trip, Head Coach Rob Bruley was already looking toward the matches with excitement and confidence.
“‘Spring Break Sports’ is probably the number one tennis organization,” said Bruley. “We decided to go to Orlando because there are better teams down there as opposed to Puerto Rico.”
The trip marked the beginning of the spring season for the Lady Hawks, one with a schedule that is “much tougher and much more difficult” than last year’s fall schedule.
This season the team will not face any other SUNYAC schools and will instead play against other Division III schools from the northeastern region. While the team understands that this will be a tougher season, they look forward to it with confidence.
“We’re excited,” said second-year player Montana Wilson. “We like to be challenged and this is going to be good.”
Bruley echoed this sentiment.
“They like to be challenged, they don’t like playing easy matches,” said Bruley. “In some ways, they would rather lose 9-0 against a very, very, very good team than win 9-0 against a team where they don’t even need to break a sweat.”
Although the team did get to relax and enjoy some recreational time while on their spring break, the matches they had were their main focus. The level of their opposition was “very strong” and provided the team with motivation to get ahead early. The team came back with a 3-1 record that was the result of intense indoor workouts during the winter.
“Prior to spring break we had three weeks of indoor training to prepare for the tough four matches, but there is no substitute to playing matches,” said Bruley. “These matches will help each player to get back into the swing of playing, help with their timing, footwork and conditioning, and belief that they can win in tight situations.”
These matches will also prepare New Paltz for their two biggest tournaments of the season. The team was invited to a tournament hosted by Wellesey College and they will also be participating in the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championships in May. Bruley said the team was “honored” to be invited.
“There are about four or five schools who will be there that are all nationally-ranked,” said Bruley. “We were invited to this tournament…It just shows how this small program has moved on now and being invited to play with the big boys, so to say.”
The trip sparked confidence among Bruley’s players going into a competitive spring season. Bruley said the team always goes in with that high level of play in mind, and this attitude makes him excited to see what his players will bring onto the courts.
“As always I’m really excited about the spring season,” said Bruley. “The team was happy to pick up their rackets and play competitively again and we are all excited about the trip to the NCAA National Championship, giving us an opportunity to play the best in the country and to showcase our Women’s Tennis program.”