NAPLES, Fla. - Under a sunny afternoon Florida sky, the Franciscan women's tennis team played some of their best tennis on Wednesday against Ave Maria, leaving with a 4-2 victory.
After lineup introductions, the women took the court for doubles just after 1:15 p.m. Playing against an abbreviated Ave Maria lineup that featured only No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams, the Lady Barons were defaulted the No. 3 spot.
Playing together for the first time since their AMCC championship, freshmen No. 1 doubles duo Madelyn Conrad and Grace Hammel appeared to resume work there they left off at the conclusion of the fall semester. Though Conrad's deep volleys and Hammel's solid serves weren't enough in an 8-5 loss, the pair resumed a chemistry crucial to the team's success in the NCAAs.
Junior Maggie Vander Woude, together with senior partner Claire Haddad, made quick work of their No. 2 doubles opponents, courtesy of an 8-0 victory. Their constant on-court communication anchored consistent doubles play for the team. The flawless finish was the first of four victories for the women on the afternoon.
Up 2-1 against strong Ave Maria opposition, the Lady Barons took the courts for singles. Ave Maria defaulted their No. 5 and No. 6 singles spots, clinching the overall match victory for the Lady Barons ahead of their first singles point.
Sophomore Julia Razook outlasted her No. 3 singles opponent in short time, 6-3, 6-1. She shook off early serving troubles and drove her groundstrokes deep into the court, forcing her opponent into error. The sophomore said she looks to grow more comfortable in the court after returning from a fall semester in Austria.
At No. 1 singles, Conrad faced perhaps the toughest test of her collegiate career. The freshman responded to her opponent's adept court movement and consistent strokes with impressive shots of her own, ending several successive rallies with winners off her own racket. Conrad said the 6-0, 6-2 defeat allowed her to re-familiarize herself with the mental facet of the game, a personal success despite a statistical loss.
Hammell turned strong winds into a weapon at No. 2 singles. Her first match in months was a strong one, characterized by hard strokes and baseline consistency. Deep serves made for short returns in her decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory, with games punctuated by angled approach shots.
A 6-0, 6-0 No. 4 singles victory for senior Eric Coyne finalized the Lady Baron victory on the day. The team will remain in Florida until Saturday, taking full advantage of ideal weather conditions well conducive to effective practices and relaxation.
Post-match, head coach Scott Greve complimented the team's work ethic, and emphasized how impressed he was with the ladies' play on the day. The Lady Barons next take on Westminster College on April 7 at 4 p.m.