The two UTD tennis teams got off to different starts this season as the men’s team swept its first weekend and the women’s team dropped both of their opening matches.
After their short run of fall matches, the teams worked to get ready for their regular seasons in the spring. For the men, this included working the new freshmen players into the team, which did not lose any graduating seniors over the break.
That won’t be the case at the end of the season, as there are two athletes who will depart the team. Senior Christian Duarte said he can feel his body showing his age as he enters his final year.
“I just feel a lot older,” Duarte said. “I’m glad this is my last season of eligibility because I can’t do this for much longer.”
The women’s team only lost one senior going into the spring. Before leaving, the player paired with freshman Kathy Joseph to qualify for the national tournament held in Arizona last fall.
After qualifying in both singles and doubles for the national tournament, Joseph used the opportunity to gauge the amount of competition she was up against.
“It was good to be exposed to the top level that the girls are playing at nationally,” Joseph said.
She also watched the other matches and players to find the parts of her game that need work.
“It gave me more motivation to keep playing and know that there’s always stuff to be improving on,” Joseph said.
Whereas the fall matches are based more on the individual players, the spring season is focused on the team — an aspect Joseph is looking forward to.
“Right now I can just focus on having more fun in the spring and enjoying the game a little bit more,” Joseph said.
Head coach Bryan Whitt said the teams have good players from top to bottom who are capable of getting points anywhere. The team, he added, is ready to go into the swing of the season.
“Practice is one thing, but seeing how they perform in actual competition is really what matters,” Whitt said.
As the two teams open the regular season with opposite records, they are using the out-of-conference matches to keep everyone sharp.
“Ultimately, the conference is what matters,” Whitt said. “We definitely try to look at (the matches) as just Saturday.”