TENNIS | Top Teams to Test GU at ITAs
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013 01:10
Though the Georgetown men’s and women’s tennis teams play the majority of their matches — including all conference matches — in the spring, they compete in a handful of dual matches and tournaments in the fall, including the highly competitive Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Tournament. After a lackluster start to the fall season, both the men’s and women’s teams have an opportunity to step up their games at the ITA Regional Tournament. The men’s team will travel to Virginia Tech from Oct. 17 to Oct. 22, and the women’s team will travel to the University of Virginia from Oct. 18 to Oct. 21 for a grueling weekend of tennis.
Both teams will face stiff competition from a range of experienced opponents in the Atlantic region, including the 2012 NCAA Champions and current No. 1 UVA men’s team and the No. 15 UVA women’s team, along with a number of teams that Georgetown will face again later in the season.
“It is pretty cool to be in a region with Virginia, who is the best team in the country,” Head Coach Gordie Ernst said. “When we go to play, they will be possibly playing Virginia guys.”
The tournaments are an opportunity for the team to continue its development during the fall season, which mostly consists of individual and doubles play without team implications. Due to this structure, most of the team will not compete in the ITA Tournament, as Georgetown is guaranteed only one singles player and one doubles team each for the men and women. The Hoyas can earn more spots, however, with successful play.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how many girls we can get in there,” senior co-captain Kelly Comolli said. “We want to get as many as we can to get to play that tournament.”
The brackets will not be set until later in the week, leaving more time for the Hoyas to compete for spaces. The experience is valuable for those who will compete, but their experiences will also translate to those players who did not make the cut.
“When you go and you play at this level and then you come back and they share that with the rest of the team,” Ernst said, “it’s like, well, this is what we’re going to have to do to get better.”
The opportunity to beat some of these strong competitors is also a strong motivator for the team.
“It’s definitely going to be the best competition we’ve faced all fall, and this is why it’s so exciting to go to that tournament,” Comolli said. “You’ve got a lot of ACC schools down there — UVA, Virginia Tech, a lot of highly ranked teams — so to get a couple of big wins down there would be huge for the program, I think, especially giving us some momentum going into the spring.”
Both the men and women have struggled in the first few weeks of the season, an issue partially attributable to the relative youth. But as the season progresses, the team has begun to develop, and Ernst feels the ITAs will be a chance to both demonstrate and continue that trend.
“I think that everyone has grown closer and we’ve grown more of a team,” Ernst said. “The fall is tough because we play these individual tournaments, and that’s why we try to fit some matches in, but right now, it’s just about trying to get better.”
Comolli had similar sentiments. As the last tournament of the fall, it also takes on a sentimental value.
“For me and [senior co-captain] Maddie [Jaeger], this being our last regional tournament, we’re definitely excited for it and really want to do well.”
For both the men and the women, matches in the week leading up to ITAs will provide final preparation for the tournament: the women at the Navy Invitational from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13, and the men against District of Columbia on Oct. 15.
“The guys that go will put in a little extra next week,” Ernst said. “Navy’s on, so the girls are going to go down and they’re going to play a ton.”
After making final preparations, the teams will travel down to the tournament sites, something the women’s team has not done this year. Comolli feels that this is another aspect of the tournament that will help the team develop.
“I think we’re pretty close as a team right now and still getting to know each other a little bit,” Comolli said. “It’s our first trip on the road, so it’ll be interesting to see how we react to going on the road.”
As the final competition for both teams until mid-January, and as a competition that includes many of the regional rivals with which the Hoyas will be contending in the spring, the tournaments will be a critical meter of the team’s progress. The coach hopes this is something that both teams will be able to take solid advantage of.
“To go to play against the best guys in the country, I would think, is pretty cool,” Ernst said. “And I hope [our players] will too. And if they don’t, then maybe I’ll cut these guys.”