The Gustavus Women’s tennis team began its fall competition three weeks ago and is on the cusp of completion, putting an end to the brief individual portion of the 2010 season.
“Everything we do in the spring is all team-based,” Head Coach Jon Carlson said. “[The fall season] is hard because we created team goals, but we have one competition, and it’s an individual tournament.”
The USTA/ITA Regional Tournament represents the lone event on the fall schedule, providing an interesting juxtaposition to the spring season because the tournament pitted teammates against each other.
Gustavus hosted this year’s regional event and made the home crowd proud by earning an all-Gustavus final in both singles and doubles and outplaying a field of the region’s best 65 players from 19 different schools.
Senior Sam Frank defeated fellow Gustie Junior Megan Gaard in the singles final 6-2, 6-4. “Knowing that I’m playing a teammate in the finals solidifies how good of a team we are,” Frank said.
Gaard’s defeat was short-lived, as she found redemption in the subsequent doubles final. She joined partner Senior Marianne Barau in defeating Frank and partner Junior Maria Bryan in straight sets.
The next step for Frank, Gaard and Barau is a trip to Mobile, Ala. for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Small College Championships on October 14-17.
This year will be the second straight year Frank has qualified for the national tournament, participating last year in the doubles competition. Earning a spot as a singles competitor quantifies another level of success for her, though. “It’s something that you earned yourself, so it’s fun to be there,” Frank said.
Meanwhile, Gaard and Barau have been awaiting their chance at a national title for quite some time and are excited to share the success. “This is our third year playing together, so we have a lot of experience together,” Gaard said.
After losing in the finals of the ITAs the previous two years, their diligence finally paid off with a convincing victory at the regional tournament last Sunday.
It is assured that the competition will increase at the national tournament, but an unexpected obstacle may inhibit their performance as well.
The hot Alabama climate will provide a contrasting environment to the temperature-controlled Swanson Tennis Center.
However, the women hardly seem deterred by the promise of humid, 80 degree temperatures.
“We’ll come back with tan lines and a national title, hopefully,” Gaard said.
Although Frank and Gaard assured that simply winning their first round matches would be a success, there is hope for further success in the tournament.
Another thing the women are hoping for is an increase in fan attendance. “A lot of people rule [attendance] out because they can’t be loud, but actually you can,” Frank said. “You just can’t be loud during play.”
The women’s recent success should provide the incentive to attend these events, although the next home competition won’t come until the spring season starts.
“We’re hosting National Indoors in February, and that’s a really fun tournament to have people come to,” Frank said. “They can come get rowdy.” Just remember: no yelling, grunting or moaning during play. Leave that up to the players.