Youth Will Be Driving Force for Women's Tennis
HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Head coach Tom Simpson and the Coker women's tennis team will have to rely heavily on its younger players this season. The majority of the starting lineup consists of underclassmen and will be the driving force years team success.
"This is going to be a bit of a rebuilding year for us," said Simpson. "We have two of our younger players in our top three. We have girls that are great athletes that just need to improve on their tennis skills."
This year's team consists of three seniors, Faith Baxley, Rachel Solomon and Adri Watford; sophomore Jessi Campos, who was a third team all-conference performer last season; and two freshmen, Sarah Elliott and Kyria Borelli.
"This team is unbelievably athletic," said Simpson. "With athleticism comes a natural competitiveness that is really key to their drive for the game. However, our dual-athletes have to work hard on improving their tennis skills to make up for a little bit of lost time."
The team finished last season 7-14 with a 4-7 in conference record, but moving into the South Atlantic Conference will make it challenging to repeat their past success. Coker was picked to finish 10th in the preseason poll.
"The competition will be much tougher in the SAC," said Simpson. "Wingate is a pretty heavy favorite to win the conference as it went undefeated in the league last year."
Strong in-conference play is not the only thing the ladies will be up against this season. The non-conference slate is highlighted by matchups against Division I teams Coastal Carolina University and Liberty University.
"In addition to those teams we are playing a couple of the Peach Belt Conference schools as well," said Simpson. "I am setting the bar high for the program so they know what the competition is really like. I want it like that so they aren't content with what they were but can shoot for what they could be."
The ladies have already been hard at work as they have competed in the International Tennis Association Fall Regional in September.
"Competing in the tournament gave us a true test of the strength of competition we will face in every match," said Simpson. "We played very well, and the ladies now know what to improve on to up their games to the next level."
The women will open up their season at home Feb. 1 against Lander University.