By Kelsey Roebuck
Over spring break, the women’s tennis team launched into preparation for Nationals after nearly five and a half months without formal training. With only six weeks of coached practice allowed before the competition, the team is working hard to regain the momentum they had for the Midwest Conference in the fall.
“We played five matches in four days in Florida [over spring break] and even though I think we ended up going two and three, they were really good teams. It was just a lot of tennis and a lot of good preparation in a short amount of time,” said co-captain Laura Krull ’13.
Coach Andy Hamilton ’85 ensured that the matches over spring break represented the types of teams that the team would face at Nationals.
“We did play a pretty difficult schedule in Florida…we played two or three teams that were top in their conference; they were also spring teams,” Hamilton said.
Both the players and their coaches cite the need for more preparation time in order to be ready to compete against other spring teams at Nationals.
“Especially because [the spring season] is shorter, we haven’t had as much time to practice with the coaches,” Krull said.
The Midwest Conference limits coach-to-player contact in women’s tennis to 14 to 16 weeks per year, while the NCAA allows 19 weeks of coach-to-player contact. The situation is less than ideal for student-athletes to maintain the level of athleticism and conditioning needed to compete in Nationals.
“It’s a little bit problematic because most programs in the country have their entire spring season in terms of preparation. We’re only allowed, because of conference rules, to have six weeks of spring play,” Hamilton said.
The Midwest Conference rules regarding limited coach-to-player contact in women’s tennis could actually violate Title IX, a problem that the Midwest Conference administration has noticed recently.
“For example, the men’s tennis opportunity during a year is anywhere between 17 and 18 weeks. Personally, I’ve pointed this out several times,” Hamilton said.
Despite the controversy, the players look forward to the chance to prove themselves at Nationals.
“It’s exciting that we get to go,” said co- captain Catherine Fitch ’13. “We’re probably going to play a really strong team… that’s why we’re playing teams maybe slightly above our ability, to play up to them.”
Although this past weekend women’s tennis lost 7-2 to Coe College, the Iowa Conference champion, the match represented one of their best performances against the tennis powerhouse. The players and coaches agree that their overall performance bodes well for the rest of the season.
“That type of loss, a 7-2 loss, could turn into a 6-3 or 5-4 win, especially as our women get a little more into their games,” Hamilton said.