With Opening Day right around the corner, Seton Hall’s tennis team will look to stay healthy as they try to be a group to reckon with this season.
The squad had seven of their eight players injured at one point last year, a situation they would like to avoid in the new campaign.
“First hope is to stay healthy,” head coach Greg Wyzykowski said. “Two of our best were injured. We’re hoping and staying positive.”
Wyzykowski also says he would like to see his team improve in doubles play, an area that hurt the Hall last year.
“We need to work on our doubles result,” Wyzykowski said. “Several matches were lost – like Georgetown – due to the loss of the doubles point. We shifted the lineup and the two freshmen have some doubles skills.”
The two freshman Wyzykowski is referring to are Anna Fajnorova and Thandy Kangwa. Fajnorova is from Bratislava, Slovakia while Kangwa is from Fort Myers, Florida.
“These two have the potential to challenge our top players for those spots,” Wyzykowski said.
The Pirates do return six of their eight players from last season. The two departures, Anna Guryanova and Madison Shoemamker have moved on following their graduation.
With six players returning however, the Hall now has depth and experience to go alongside the two talented freshmen new to the roster, all of which could give the Pirates enough fire power to possibly be a contender this season.
With four international players, SHU has a diversified roster this year. The players from abroad – Fajnorova, sophomore Luize Strike and seniors Isabell Klingert and Hannah Liljekvist – must rely on their teammates because they are a long way from home.
“It’s pretty neat,” Wyzykowski said, regarding how his international and American players co-exist on and off the court. “This team becomes their extended family. We end up building a strong bond.”
One way in which the team bonded came in the form of volunteer service at the U.S. Open during Labor Day weekend. The team helped teach young kids the fundamentals of tennis in New York City prior to one of the sport’s biggest events.
The Hall will play three tournaments this season, starting with the three-day Quinnipiac Invitational on Friday, Sept. 18 in Hamden, Connecticut. Also on the docket are the West Point Invitational at the end of September and the Navy Blue & Gold Invitational at the start of October. The Hall will then play a match against Fordham at home on Oct. 17 before suiting up for the ITA Northeast Invitational.
“The first tournament – we’ve done well in past,” Wyzykowski said. “[We’re] only going with six players because one of the top players is injured and a freshman won’t be eligible. I want to see players step up. Army and Navy invitational, we’re looking for improvement. Then, the Dartmouth tourney against the best competition in the northeast. We’ll see what the team is made of.”
Blaine Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @bspence252.