The New Paltz Women’s Tennis team has finished their regular season and is moving on to the NCAA Division III Championships, which begins on May 12.
The SUNYAC champions finished the season with a 15-4 record and recently won the New Paltz Tournament that they hosted over the course of alumni weekend.
Much like the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament, 64 teams are put into a single bracket based on seeding. The team will take on Simmons College in the first round on Friday in Amherst, Mass.
After a successful season, the ladies and their coach are confident going into the championship tournament.
“This is the strongest team we’ve ever sent,” Head Coach Robert Bruley said.
Bruley said he has seen some special things out of his girls this year and knows they have what it takes to at least get out of the first round.
Since it is the first trip to the championships for everyone on the team, the women are keeping their goals within reach. The Hawks have never made it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament and they are all striving to change that this year.
“I’m guessing the competition is going to be pretty good. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m basically just trying to get past the first round,” said second-year player Kayla DiPaulo.
The rest of the girls have set the same goal, but feel that they have the ability to take it further than that.
With the semester coming to a close and finals approaching, the girls are having a tough time waiting for the tournament to begin. Second-year player Montana Wilson said it has been stressful lately because she is trying to get everything done before the team leaves, so when the tournament arrives, she can focus exclusively on tennis.
The miserable weather that has hit the area lately has not helped the lady Hawks prepare for the tournament.
“The weather’s kind of sucked, so it’s been a little hard for us to be practicing a lot, but we’ve actually realized that when we don’t practice as often, we try a lot harder,” fourth-year player and team captain Stephanie Schara said.
This being their final season, Schara and fourth-year player Lindsey Garyn could not imagine a better way to close out their careers at New Paltz. As doubles partners, the two seniors expressed their desire to get through the first round together.
“I definitely want to win in doubles with Lindsey ‘cause we were undefeated in the fall and we really want to try and win that first doubles round,” said Schara. “It gives you such good morale going into singles. You have no idea. It pumps you up like crazy.”
On the other side of the spectrum, first-year player Paige Munroe, who had a 19-2 record this season, said it feels great to have such a successful first season.
“It’s been awesome to come here right out of high school and do so well and grow better as a player,” Munroe said. “I think I can do well at my position, I just hope as a team together we can pull it together and make it to the second round.”
Munroe said she has not been nervous yet this season, which is an improvement from her high school years.
“This is a big deal, especially for New Paltz, you know? It’s not like we send too many teams off to national championships, so we’re excited. We’re ready to go,” Bruley said.
Bruley is confident in his girls’ and knows that they are a very competitive bunch. They will all have a chance this weekend to be the first to move on to the second round in the college’s history, something that everyone here can be proud of.