TENNIS | GU Confident for Spring Season
Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 00:01
After a break of almost three months, the Georgetown men’s and women’s tennis teams are looking to successfully transition from the fall to the spring season. Both teams will be competing in the 4+1 Invitational Tournament hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University Friday in Richmond, VA.
The men’s and women’s squads will participate against VCU and Campbell University in both singles and doubles matches. This invitational tournament will consist of four simultaneous singles matches and one doubles match for both the men and the women. Though the teams have not played in an official match since Oct. 20, they are looking to start this stretch of the season with a strong showing against competitive teams.
While this tournament will be a challenge as the first official match since the fall, the Hoyas have an additional obstacle — the always-talented VCU Rams, whose men’s and women’s teams have a combined 22 conference championships in the Atlantic-10 conference.
The competition with VCU will challenge Georgetown, but because the Rams too have had a significant amount of time off between matches, they are not invincible, according to Georgetown Head Coach Gordie Ernst.
“We will be the underdog against VCU, but I like it better that way. It’s the first weekend so you just don’t know, but it’s the first weekend for VCU also. Their team is filled with very good athletes. We have no pressure, so it should be fun,” Ernst said.
While the Blue and Gray have many opportunities this winter and spring to establish themselves, the 4+1 Invitational will demonstrate the teams’ determination and work ethic. Going up against talented opponents is always a challenge, however, just about anything can happen in the opening tournament of a season.
The Hoyas have been practicing day in and day out to be ready for a fresh wave of tournaments, and several additions will be made to both lineups. Two Hoyas, freshman Victoire Saperstein and senior captain Andy Dottino, will return from injury this spring. Both Saperstein and Dottino missed the fall season due to injury, but after full recoveries, both plan to make comebacks on the court during the second half of the season. Meanwhile sophomore Liselot Koenen, who recently transferred from the University of Houston, will make her first appearance for Georgetown.
“Andy Dottino has been one of our most valuable players” Ernst said of his senior captain who tore his labrum last year. “I’m glad that he is back for his final season … We want everyone to be ready for the Big East Championship at the end, but at this point I’m just happy to have everyone back in lineup.”
Though it may take Dottino a few matches to return to his previous form, his presence alone could be enough to give the Hoyas the mental spark they need.
Upperclassmen on the women’s team also add to the up-tempo rhythm of the program. Senior co-captain Kelly Comolli, who walked on to the Georgetown women’s basketball team earlier this year, will return to the tennis court to continue her final season.
“[Junior] Sophie Panarese, Madeline Jaeger and Kelly Comolli are the heart and soul of this women’s team. It’s bittersweet that Madeline and Kelly are seniors, but I’m happy to have them for one more season,” Ernst said.
Aside from talent on the Georgetown tennis team, there is a strong chemistry between the players, which will aid in the team’s success.
“The thing I’m most excited about is that we have such a perfect blend of experience and talent,” Ernst said. “Players on both teams have been through so many battles, and I think that will benefit us this season. That’s what you love about a team — one that can fight and produce results.”
Chemistry, on the court and in practice, is one aspect of a healthy roster which many overlook. Fans and members of the program will hope that returning players and a squad at full strength will translate into success on the court. For a sport that emphasizes the individual, the Hoyas have worked hard to create a dynamic which focuses on team goals and success as a group. A blank slate and healthy players give Hoya fans every reason to hope for a successful spring.