The Seton Hall women’s tennis team will travel to Cayce, S.C., to take part in the 2017 Big East Championship from April 28-30.
The Pirates finished the season with a 7-9 overall record and a 1-4 record in the Big East. The Hall was awarded the No. 6 seed and will take on the No. 3 seeded Georgetown Hoyas.
This spring, Seton Hall has been led by sophomore Anicka Fajnorova who boasts an impressive 9-3 record in dual matches. Along with Fajnorova as one of the Pirates’ leaders has been her doubles partner, Luize Strike. In 15 dual matches on the year, the junior from Latvia had 10 wins with six coming from the top seeded singles position.
Joining Strike as the only other upperclassmen on the team is Katie Kim. The junior has been great as one half of the No. 2 seeded doubles team with sophomore Thandy Kangwa. The pairing posted back-to-back Big East doubles wins against Villanova and top-seeded St. John’s this season and will look to continue its recent success in the Big East Tournament.
Despite the inexperience and youth, coach Riza Zalameda believes this team will be confident come tournament time.
“I’m really proud they’ve come so far to overcome adversity and I think this team has grown in their mental toughness,” Zalameda said. “With the high expectations of where this program is going to go, they’ve understood there needs to be some changes in how we do things here at Seton Hall and I’m really proud that they’ve taken that and ran with it.”
With four of the eight members of this team being freshmen, this Big East Tournament will be the first time playing on the conference’s biggest stage for some of these young players. One of those players is freshman Anniek Jansen who had six dual meet victories in the spring season. Jansen also shares Zalameda’s confidence and enthusiasm coming into the tournament.
“It’s a new start and new week so it’s another chance for us to play well,” Jansen said. “We trained a lot on consistency and repetition as well as keeping focus and concentration while playing, so I think if we do that we’ll be fine.”
The Hall will also look to freshman pair Melody Taal and Michal Matson to provide some help in the middle seedings. The duo has dominated at the No. 3 seeded doubles position with an impressive 6-2 record on the year.
Rounding out the team is freshman Krista Cerpina who is almost perfect from the No. 6 seeded singles position at 7-1.
“Going into the conference championships anything can happen,” Zalameda said. “With the school rivalries it’s all about guts, handling emotions, and seeing who is braver in the end.”
The Big East Championship will be broadcast live on the Big East Digital Network starting on Thursday, with Seton Hall taking on Georgetown on Friday, April 28 at 4 p.m.
Nick Santoriello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NickSantoriello.