After winning the title in 2010, SUNY New Paltz’s tennis team is looking to do it again.
The team’s fall season is set to come to its close as they head to Binghamton on Friday, Oct. 5 to pursue the SUNYAC Tournament title. The team made it to the final in fall 2011, but came up short against conference rival SUNY Geneseo.
The team is 6-1 on the season, with their only loss coming this past weekend against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Head Coach Robert Bruley said while the loss left the team “shell-shocked,” they are looking toward the upcoming weekend with focus and confidence.
“That’s a match we shouldn’t have lost,” Bruley said. “I think we’d really like to have that one back, but otherwise the girls have been performing extremely well this season. They’re all committed to each other and doing their best on the courts.”
Bruley said the driving force of the team’s success lies within the senior leadership the team possesses. Led by fourth-year Captain Kayla DiPaulo, the team’s dominance this season not only comes from their top to bottom strength, but their teamwork as well, Bruley said.
“This year’s team has so much more camaraderie than years past,” DiPaulo said. “Everyone on the team just clicks and gets along really well together. We have been this way in past years, with groups of people, not as a team as a whole in my opinion.”
The fourth-year players — DiPaulo, Montana Wilson and Alli Esposito — are the ones who pushed for harder conditioning workouts and are always the last to leave the court, Bruley said. He also said they’re driven by the knowledge that this championship will be the last chance they have at a title.
“Seniors can go one of two ways,” Bruley said. “They either can’t be bothered with anything or they push themselves by always knowing that their last chance to succeed is only getting closer. The seniors this year are all aware that this will be it for them.”
Driven by the desire to do well, the team went undefeated in SUNYAC play. Most memorably, the team defeated SUNYAC rival Geneseo, ending the Blue Knights’ six-year undefeated SUNYAC run.
Despite the win against their biggest rival, Bruley said the team is cognizant of the fact that it was a close match against the Blue Knights this season. He said the team has to go in with quiet confidence in order to do well and have another successful outing against Geneseo.
DiPaulo said even with the current success of the season, she is still going into the tournament with the pressure to do well, as she knows it is her last time at a SUNYAC tournament.
“Being a senior, I feel as though there is slightly more pressure to succeed on a personal level, just because this is my last chance to do well in SUNYACs,” DiPaulo said. “However, I know what our team is capable of and have a ton of confidence that we can pull out another SUNYAC championship.”
Second-year Devin Tracy said she is going into the weekend with confidence, knowing that the success the team has had so far this season can continue come tournament play.
“Our team has improved so much this year both tennis-wise and fitness-wise,” Tracy said. “I believe this weekend we can take the championship. I feel extremely confident about this upcoming weekend.”