The women’s tennis team competed at the Midwest Conference Championships on Oct. 13 and 14. On day one, the Prairie Fire competed in doubles matches. Freshman Kathryn Allee and sophomore Bhumika Gupta lost a close match to Beloit 4-8 and fell to Illinois College 3-8 in the consolation match.
Freshman Himani Patel and junior Mallory Boychuk dropped a pair of matches to Lawrence and Beloit, 0-8. Freshmen Abby Ball and Jamahra Richards fell to Beloit 1-8 and St. Norbert 0-8.
On day two, Gupta managed a victory in her singles match versus Cornell College 6-3. Later, she fell to Lake Forest 1-6 and 0-6 in the semifinals. Gupta is the only returner to the team and says this has been a definite building year for the team.
“Talking about the conference, team-wise we might have not done too well because this year is definitely a developing year but personally, I did much better than last year,” Gupta said. “I reached the semifinals. And I was the sixth seed in the singles draw, so for me the season went really well and the conference went really good too.”
Allee agrees that the team is young but says they hope to build and become a better team by the time they are seniors.
“We’re a really young team … so it was a hard season adjusting to collegiate-level sports,” Allee said. “But it was really fun to grow as women together. Conference, we didn’t do too well but we bonded together and we were really encouraging so that’s promising for the next season.”
The women will have a short spring season which will lack much competing and include more training.
“For the spring season, we probably won’t play many matches because we want to work on being a stronger team next year and we are going to practice more and improve our strengths and weaknesses,” Gupta said. “We are going to double up more and try and improve our skills instead of competing in the spring term.”
After graduating five seniors and losing seven players overall, the women lost their entire team except for Gupta, who says it’s proved challenging at times to technically be the only ‘upperclassman.’
“Last year when [the team] was all seniors, we used to go to play a match, it was a different feeling when there were so many upperclassmenÉ I kind of felt that I was relaxed, I didn’t have to worry much,” Gupta said. “There were seniors that could handle things but this year having all of the newcomers, I feel that I’m in a position of responsibility and I have to take charge. I have to explain all of the little traditions and about college tennis because it’s their first time playing. It was very different but very fun, getting to know how their high school worked and stuff.”
Allee said her experience on the team has been great.
“Tennis is great, our coach is really good. She’s really empowering us to be strong women,” Allee said. “I love the sport, so that’s really good too. It makes it good because when things aren’t going well, you at least love to play. It’s really great to meet all of the other schools. There’s not a lot of outreach programs that would let you meet the other schools and other women so that’s really nice about tennis as well.”
The Fire will return their six players for next season and will continue working hard in the spring to become a better team overall.