As most teams will be gearing up for a good playoff run, the IUP women’s tennis seems to already be geared up for a big battle.
The Hawks currently stand at a 11–3 overall record and a perfect 6–0 in the conference. The big weekend victories took place at Maple Courts, home of the Crimson Hawks, and started with a 6–1 victory against Bluefield State.
This victory put the Hawks at a 4–1 record against Atlantic Region top 10 competition. The doubles game was clicking for the Hawks in this one as they picked up three victories. Idoia Huerta (junior, biology) and Lydia Vlachou (freshman, public health) in the doubles match won by a score of 6–0, which was their ninth straight win.
“I feel that the team is its best momentum right now,” Huerta said. “Everyone is doing great; we are healthier than at the beginning of the season, and we are ready to battle the next step. I feel really good about my game. Right now, we are just focusing on the matches. There is not much we can do right now to improve our fitness level or make big corrections in our game.
“Now we take what we got, we get efficient practice that take one hour at most just to get repetitions in, the motions and the feeling with the ball to get us ready to battle every match. We are ready for the post season.”
With putting up great numbers like that, you know you are doing something right. Even in a short practice duration, the Hawks get done what is needed of them, and that’s why the Hawks are in the great position they are in right now.
We can’t forget the duo of Karolin Kirchtag (junior, sports administration) and Katy Graydon (freshman, undecided), who won their ninth straight with a 6–4 win at two.
To cap it off, Laura Dunarova (junior, accounting) and Abby Jones (freshman, environmental engineering) got a 6–4 victory in their matchup against Bluefield. Just because there is more individual contribution in tennis more than other sports does not mean it is not a full team sport. It takes a lot of teamwork in the doubles matches to bring that complete game.
“Every match matters; every opponent matters,” Huerta said. “All the matches we have in our season matter, otherwise they would not be in the schedule. There are different things to learn at each match: Either you win or you don’t.
“Going 5–1 this year against teams ranked in the top 10 of the region matters to me. It means that there’s still work to do, and we have the opportunity and skills to be the best team in the region. We are ready to prove that by giving our best tennis in the next two weeks. The end of the year results is based on the season results. If we don’t take seriously the season and care about all the matches we play, we won’t make it to the post season.
“Every match is important,” Huerta said.
After a solid win against Bluefield State, the Hawks had a quick turnaround with a date against Salem the day after. They picked up right where they left off and picked up some doubles victories with the duo of Huerta and Vlachou earning their 10th straight victory.
Shortly after, Kirchtag and Graydon claimed their 10th straight victory with a score of 6–3. As far as the singles matches went, Kirchtag defeated Ana Kunic by the scores of 6–3 and 6–1. Graydon took care of her business by the scores of 6–3, 5–7 and 10–8. Huerta had a challenge against Salem’s Iryna Rusyn. Huerta did fall by the scores of 6–3, 4–6 and 10–8.
The Hawks are excited and confident in how they have performed so far this season and want to make a big splash this year.
“We dominated the conference in the regular season,” Huerta said. “We are giving the message of being the best team in the region, but we have to prove that every day at every match.
“The rest of the teams know that and they bring they best tennis to try to beat us. We keep proving it; we are the best team in the conference, and this build confidence that helps us going into regionals and the national tournament.”
With a thriller weekend and regionals and nationals coming up, the Hawks will look to keep the train rolling. Their next matchup will be against West Liberty on Wednesday at Indiana at 3:30 p.m. They will then wrap up their regular season at Bucknell on Friday at 2:30 p.m.