Vassar women’s tennis back(h)and better than ever

Junior Kate Christensen holds the No. 1 spot on the women’s tennis team. The Brewers are shaping up to be well-rounded and poised to win the Liberty League Championship. / Photo courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

The Vassar women’s tennis team is off to a strong 2-1 start as they begin their spring season. Securing wins against Muhlenberg College and RPI, the Brewers have only lost to Army, a Division I team.

With a very solid team of talented returners and impressive freshmen, the Brewers will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Other teams in the Liberty League are taking note of their strength this year as well. Vassar was picked to finish second in the Liberty League pre-season poll, only falling a few points behind Skidmore College.

This past weekend, the Brewers took on the RPI Engineers and, although they had a slow start, they were able to come out on top and secure their first Liberty League win. Some of the days most competitive matches came from the singles positions.

No. 1 junior Kate Christensen knocked off RPI’s regionally ranked Allie Kallish as freshman Tara Edwards picked up a win against Tess Lubin. Edwards lost the first set, but was not deterred by the loss and fought back to win the second two sets in a close match. With some help from senior Shayna Becker at No. 2 singles spot and Flournoy and Christensen at the No. 2 doubles spot, Vassar ended up walking away with a convincing 7-2 win against the Engineers.

Coach Kathy Campbell has been a staple in the women’s tennis team for years and has helped guide the Brewers to achieve countless accolades. In terms of this season, Coach Campbell has high hopes for the season.

In terms of team goals, Coach Campbell hopes to create a well-rounded team which has a very diverse skill set. She explained, “[I coach] from a very ‘process-oriented’ approach. We talk about and guide ourselves based on how we can continue to improve daily much more than outcome goals.” Additional goals include: “high energy and work ethic in practice to push each other, composure in competition, continue to raise our fitness level, united team effort and accountability to the team, positive team dynamic [and a] united team effort and [perseverance, resilience and confidence] in competition,” explained Coach Campbell.

While VC has many long-term goals to work towards throughout the season, the team also has many immediate focuses. Coach Campbell noted, “We are devoting a lot of practice time to doubles tactics and point construction in general.” She continued, “Composure in competition (learning to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations) is an ongoing goal.”

Although the team is always striving for improvement, the Brewers are pleased with their recent results. Specifically, they express excitement about the team’s overall fitness level, determination and hard work, especially during tough matches. The team also smiles upon its attitude, as each Brewer brings a positive attitude and love for the game to the court. Against RPI and Muhlenberd especially, the collective team effort was apparent.

While Vassar is a very talented team as whole, the squad also has its share of standout performers, particularly Christensen. Christensen is one of the strongest singles players in the Liberty League. She has shown her prowess on the court since her rookie season, in which she earned Liberty League Rookie of the Year. Christensen has also been named Liberty League Singles Performer of the Week during the 2015-2016 season and All-Liberty League First Team Singles for two consecutive seasons. Continuing her success, she has 10 victories on the season and has been consistently strong at the No. 1 singles position and at the No. 2 doubles position.

Christensen is very happy with the way the team performed this past weekend. She particularly pointed to the team’s grit and undying determination. Speaking of the match against the Engineers, Christensen noted, “Our play was reflected by the decisive win. Everyone fought really hard, especially in the second sets.”

However, sharing Coach Campbell’s sentiments, Christensen acknowledges that the team has room for improvement. Specifically, she stated, “Our doubles could use a little improvement in order to get a stronger start in future matches.” Nevertheless, Christensen knows the team can improve and looks forward to what is it store for Vassar this season.

Collectively, the team attributes its recent success to the strong leadership of the senior class, Becker and Connie Yoo. Under Becker and Yoo, VC has developed a close-knit bond and team dynamic of support and accountability.

Coach Campbell explained, “There is great respect among team members and we have done a lot of things to empower each team member and embrace her contributions. The senior captains, Shayna Becker and Connie Yoo, are great role models and quiet, yet very effective leaders.” Christensen added that the team captains are very supportive and push everyone to improve every day as well as get excited for matches.

Coach Campbell also pointed out that there is a sense of happiness radiating through the team. “Everyone is enjoying ‘the journey’ and that will help to guide us to continued improvement,” she stated.

Speaking to what is to come, Christensen believes the team’s hard work will pay off in the long run. Christensen, as well as the rest of the VC squad, look towards a winning season and taking home first in the Liberty League Championships in May.

The Brewers are clearly ready for another great season and under the team’s strong leadership a winning season looks likely.

The Brewers are clearly ready for another great season and under the team’s strong leadership a winning season looks likely.

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