With the regular season coming to a close, the SUNY New Paltz tennis team is in the midst of preparing for the SUNYAC Tournament.
The tournament, which begins on Oct. 11, will see the Lady Hawks attempt to prevent a conference title three-peat for division rival SUNY Geneseo. The team is currently 5-2 overall and first in the SUNYAC’s eastern division.
Head Coach Robert Bruley said if the team doesn’t make it to the SUNYAC finals like they’ve done the past several years, “it will be a major upset.”
“This year I’m expecting another match-up between us and Geneseo,” Bruley said. “We’ve been playing very well and we’ve been playing consistently.”
Last year the team was heartbroken as they fell to the Blue Knights in the finals, after defeating Geneseo in the regular season.
This will be the first year the team travels to the SUNYACs with three first-year players in the starting line-up. Fourth-year captain Paige Munroe said that first-years Olivia Ammirati, Elizabeth Palmer and Veronika Paikin, although not as experienced, have come in and already made an impact on the team.
“They’re all really talented and they’re all very strong players,” Munroe said. “In the beginning I don’t think they all realized how good they were and they didn’t recognize their strength. I think they’re starting to see it now though. They’re all really good already.”
Munroe was part of the 2010 team that took home the program’s last SUNYAC title. She said for the current group of first-years, she wants to create the experience she had for the current crop of first-years.
“I just remember how special it was to win SUNYACs when it was my first year on the team,” she said. “I want the other girls on the team to know what winning a championship is like and I want to have that experience that I had.”
Geneseo currently has a 7-0 overall record and hasn’t lost a game in the SUNYACs since losing to the Lady Hawks last fall. Bruley said while Geneseo is a more experienced team than the Lady Hawks, he also thinks the experience could get the best of the Blue Knights.
“When they (Geneseo) beat us earlier this season, it wasn’t an easy victory for them,” Bruley said. “They haven’t lost in a very long time, and there is a possibility that they could get complacent by the time finals roll around.”
To prepare for the postseason, Bruley said the team is working on their doubles play and on serving. He said the team’s initial level of serving at the beginning of the this season had been a weakness for the team.
But, despite the team’s weaknesses, he also said the team does have a chance to win their first SUNYAC title in three years.
“I think we are still in a fight to win the SUNYAC,” Bruley said. “We might not have as much experience as other teams in the conference, but we do have the quality and consistency to get us to the finals.”
The team will host Mount Saint Mary College on Friday, Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m and Skidmore College on Saturday at 1 p.m.