Spring Season Preview: Women’s Tennis
GREAT RIO VALLEY – As the spring season approaches, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) women’s tennis team Vaqueros are thrilled to have the opportunity to step out and prove themselves.
“We are excited right now,” said UTRGV head coach Nott West noted. “Everyone is coming to campus right now and we know we have about two weeks here to get ready for Game 1. Everyone is looking solid so far. We can’t wait to get out and see what we can do.”
The Vaqueros want to use the next two weeks before the season-opening doubleheader with Weatherford College on Jan. 29 to focus on the fundamentals.
The focus will be on movement, especially putting your feet in the right place at the right time.
“From a tennis perspective, our movement will be our greatest asset,” Nott said. “If we can move well, we can get there early to hit some balls. That will be our biggest focus to see if our footwork is good and our fitness level is good. I want to get them out and move a lot in about the first week.”
After the first two games of the season, the Vaqueros will play 12 of their games in the month of February.
The stretch kicks off in Corpus Christi before heading to Austin to face Concordia and Mary Hardin-Baylor on the same day, then face Southwestern the next day. The Vaqueros will have another doubleheader at Prairie View A&M later in the month before hosting Corpus Christi at home.
The Vaqueros then go on a road trip to Stephenville to play three games in three days against Texas Permian Basin, Montana State, Tarleton before returning home for games against Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Kingsville to close out the month.
With many games scheduled in the first month of the season, the Vaqueros know it will be important to stay healthy. Preparation for the kind of stretch the Vaqueros will face began a year ago and they are confident they can handle the initial workload.
“I think being healthy and staying healthy is the culmination of the work of the last year,” Nott said. “Hopefully the hard work comes through in those moves, and that we’re up to our abilities and reducing injuries. I think we’ve put time into fitness off the pitch, so hopefully we’ll be tough enough to handle it all.”
Dedication and hard work has been the foundation the Vaqueros have built on since Coach Nott took over the program.
This was evident throughout the fall season with the early morning practices and extra hitting sessions at the Orville Cox Tennis Center, even when Coach Nott wasn’t around.
That kind of work ethic has continued over the winter break and Coach Nott doesn’t want that to change as spring approaches.
“I want to see consistency,” Nott said. “We have to keep doing the same things we’ve been doing, but again, keep moving well, being able to put the ball on the court when we put the racket on the ball and compete with the best attitude in the world. I think if we can do those two things, I think we will be successful.”
Coach Nott knows how hard the Vaqueros have worked over the past year. He feels like everything is starting to fall into place as a program and it’s time to start getting W’s in the win column.
Getting a few wins early in the season will benefit not only the team’s record, but also the team’s attitude.
“I think if we can get a few wins under our belt it will help improve their confidence,” Nott said. “I think I said in the fall that we wanted to see if we could get to .500 and from there try to win more games than we lose. A lot of it comes down to our attitude and working that we put in every I think we’re very close, so we’ve got some new pieces here, and the existing pieces have done a lot of good work, I think it’s all about who is the best fit for certain opponents, then come out swinging.”
Added Vaqueros Marjorie Souza and Stefanie Wilske in the fall and the additions will certainly extend the range in the spring. The Vaqueros will gain depth with the addition of Barbara Martinez this spring and that will make Coach Nott’s job of filling a roster all the more difficult.
Add newcomers with the likes of Western Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year Isabelle Bahr, All-WAC Honorable Mentions Lea Karren and Valeria Montero give the Vaqueros a good youthful core.
We cannot forget the veterans of the team of Sandra Putz, who earned All-WAC second-team singles honors, Katarina Sasaroga, which earned All-WAC honorable mention, and Ana Platisa.
Coach Nott really likes his roster this season because he has a good mix of youth and experience and hopes they can perform to their potential.
“I think I really like the depth this year,” Nott said. “We have some new pieces and that brings new energy to the team. The existing players are a year older, so combining all of these things together allows us to perform better to our potential.”
Last spring, the Vaqueros finished 3-3 in WAC play, earning the No. 3 seed in the WAC tournament and a spot in the semifinals.
This is where the bar is set this season. With the additions of Lamar, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin and Abilene Christian this season, it will be harder to achieve that goal, which will mean a whole lot more if they can get there.
“I want to see how far we can go in the WAC schedule,” Nott said. “Last year we made it to the semi-finals and if we could do it again this year and perform at this level, that would be an amazing accomplishment.”
The Vaqueros have started putting the pieces together and hopefully this spring everything will fall into place.
No matter what happens, it all comes down to being consistent with hard work, dedication and, last but not least, with their attitude.
“I think it will all come down to attitude,” Nott said. “Like everything else in life, if you have a good mindset and a good outlook, especially on bad days. Whether it’s in training or on match days and if we’re learning continuously, Everything will be alright.”
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