Both of the Georgetown tennis teams will compete in local tournaments this weekend as they continue fall preseason play. The women’s team will play at the College Park Invitational, a tournament that features individual competition rather than team play. The men’s team will travel to Philadelphia, Pa., for the Penn Invitational, a tournament it competed in last year as well.
“I’ve been dying the whole summer to come back and play with all the guys on the team,” sophomore Michael Chen said. “I’m just really excited to get out there, cheer for them, have them cheer for me, just really get some good team energy going on. It’s a really fun experience.”
This will be the third consecutive season that Georgetown competes at the Penn Invitational. In 2015, the Hoyas played alongside the likes of William and Mary, Buffalo, Columbia, Old Dominion, Princeton, St. John’s, Virginia Commonwealth University, Yale and University of Pennsylvania. This season Georgetown is slated to compete against Cornell, Brown, Yale and Penn.
The men’s team will enter the tournament coming off of a 9-0 win over the University of D.C. (0-1). Though UDC plays in Division II, it represented an opportunity for Georgetown to adopt a match-ready mentality.
“We should be going in with the mindset that we should be beating them every single time, every match, and not give them any chances,” Chen said.
While the men attend the Penn Invitational, the women’s team will play an individual tournament at the University of Maryland. Georgetown players will compete against athletes from a host of local schools, including VCU, Maryland, Navy, George Washington and James Madison. The tournament will provide the Hoyas with an opportunity to get experience in individual play in preparation for regular season competition.
“I’m looking forward to playing a lot of matches,” junior Casey Marx said. “This is, I would say, our busiest fall so far, at least when I’ve been here. I think playing a lot of matches and getting back into it will be good, because I know I’ve had a slow start this season … I think playing all these matches will get us ready for the main goal of doing the best we can in the Big East tournament, so that’s what I’m excited for.”
According to Head Coach Gordie Ernst, the fall season serves an imperative role for the Georgetown program. As none of the matches contribute to the teams’ rankings and do not factor into their overall records, fall play presents an opportunity for new players to adjust to college tennis and for returners to ease back into competitive play.
“The fall is all practice, really,” Ernst said. “It’s getting experience; it’s getting matches in; it’s great for the freshman like Anna [Short] who can come in and kind of get their feet wet and see what college tennis is about without that added pressure of playing against another team where every match is on the line.”
Michigan native Short is one of many new faces on the two teams’ rosters this season. The women’s squad also welcomed junior transfer Drew Spinosa from the University of San Diego. The men’s team brought senior transfer Geoffrey Fosso, freshman Ian Witmer and junior James Heaney, a former club tennis player at Georgetown.
“James is a great success story,” Ernst said. “He didn’t make the team last year so I said ‘Alright, this is what you have to do,’ and he went out and did it. He worked hard and he played club tennis. He’s always at Yates training, he played tournaments all summer and he made the team this year. It’s a great success story. He has an exceptional attitude; he’s so positive; he’s always smiling.”
Since the construction of the John Thompson Jr. Athletic Center, the tennis teams have had to look off campus for court space. They have now adapted to practicing on the courts at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.
“It’s a nice environment, and our kids are much more comfortable there now,” Ernst said. “We’re able to have focused practices, because there are no distractions. I think it’s been good.”
Scheduling on-court practice time will prove much more challenging in the winter months when the teams will have to compete for space at Yates. Nonetheless, Ernst is not concerned about the logistical difficulties that may lie ahead. In fact, he anticipates that his team is more prepared than ever to take on those sorts of challenges.
“The bottom line is, we can always find ways to deal,” Ernst said. “We have tough kids; we have kids who don’t need the sexiest of environments all the time. We’ll find ways to get the work in. We’ll find ways to come together as a team to deal with any technical adversities. We have an exceptional bunch. My kids are much tougher, because they have to deal with some stuff. We’re going to be fine. This is going to be a good year, and you can quote me on that .”
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