As the Seton Hall women’s tennis team looks ahead to its opening tournament of the season, the Navy Invitational, which begins on Sept. 14 in Annapolis, Md., there is plenty of excitement about the season.
Over the summer, the Pirates brought in three new faces. Freshman Regina Pitts and transfer students Minja Gligic and Mekeila Erspamer headline the lineup for the Pirates, who lost Katie Kim and Luize Strike to graduation following the 2017-18 campaign.
The team is also moving into its first full season with head coach Kevin McGlynn at the helm. McGlynn, who coached the team from 1991 to 1996, returned to the program in February after a long hiatus.
McGlynn helped lead the Pirates to an undefeated season in his first tenure and is looking to right the ship with a team that has not achieved a winning record since the 2013-14 season. With a revamped roster, as well as a new system in place, McGlynn is confident that the Pirates can put together a quality campaign.
“I think one of the healthy changes for this group is that there’s three new players,” McGlynn said. “That group was together for two years. To not have any introduction of new players and skill, personality, it kind of gets a little stale. If nothing else, just introducing three new players to the mix has brought a different feel from my perspective.”
The new group, including those who are returning from last season, will look to fill the void Kim and Strike left behind, both on and off the court.
Michal Matson, entering her third year with the program, is ready to take on some of the burden, while taking into account the legacy and lessons that the graduating class has left behind.“I learned a lot from Luize and Katie,” Matson said. “Katie always came in rearing to go every practice no matter what day, what’s happening in her personal life. I’ve learned a lot from that and putting the team first and letting all of that go to help everyone achieve their goals.
“Luize was just such a fierce competitor. I feel like I’ve embraced that, and that all the other girls that played with her have embraced that. We’ve learned from them and are ready to build off of what they taught us.”
Matson shares her leadership role with Melody Taal, her doubles partner who McGlynn wishes to keep her with, and seniors Thandy Kangwa and Anicka Fajnorova. Anniek Jansen is also returning to the team from last season.
Despite the knowledge left behind by Kim and Strike, both Matson and McGlynn know it is important to look ahead to the season and getting back on the winning track.
“We’ve moved forward, I don’t think we’re really looking back,” McGlynn said. “I think some of the issues that I dealt with scheduling wise are now done and we’re just looking forward.”
Although the fall season is much shorter and less intense than the spring, there is still plenty of work to be done. Following the Navy Invitational, the Pirates will play in the ITA Regionals and Harvard Invite tournaments before taking a break until January, when they will be back in action against Sacred Heart at home.
“All of us girls are excited for the season,” Matson said. “We’re really excited to head to Navy this weekend and show everyone what we’ve got and put it all out on the table.”
Kevin Kopf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KMKTNF.