The Seton Hall women’s tennis team started the season with a lackluster performance at the West Point Invitational two weeks ago, but made a full 360-degree turn when it took home two trophies last weekend.
After losing their No. 1, Anicka Fajnorova, head coach Kevin McGlynn had to reorder his lineup this season. With three new players on the roster combined with three players that will be seniors this upcoming spring, McGlynn said he recognizes that it will take time for them to get acclimated in doubles, as well.
Sophomore Regina Pitts was in the No. 2 spot last season, and after her slow start in the first tournament this season, she won all four of her matches in the Navy and Gold Invitational on Oct. 5 without losing a set. The Los Angeles native took home hardware and continued where she left off in a freshman season that turned heads.
McGlynn notes that the gap between Fajnorova and Pitts was not that big, and he feels confident that Pitts and other players high in the rotation can rise to the occasion.
“Regina inherits the No. 1 spot being our No. 2 last year,” McGlynn said. “As freshman last year, she certainly established herself as a solid player in the region – not that she wasn’t a nationally recognized player before coming here. Anicka [Fajnorova], obviously, had the experience of being here three years over her. Mel [Taal] is right there pushing also, it’s a good situation having two talented players at the top.”
Senior Melody Taal played in the No. 3 spot last year and will assume the No. 2 when Pitts moves up. McGlynn emphasized the importance of players also being comfortable in whatever position they play and wants to get the most out the team’s depth. He believes that being No. 1 on the team is not critical, but rather, everyone needs to be in a place where they can be successful.
Freshmen Aina Plana Ventosa, of Spain, and Hiba El Khalifi, who hails from Morocco, must still make the adjustment playing on a different court. Both were raised in Europe on clay courts, are working through playing their singles and doubles on hard court.
“They both had their first wins in doubles over the weekend, so I think that settles them a bit,” McGlynn said. “Unfortunately, they don’t have competition again until the spring. It’ll be more of them continuing to get comfortable as they practice with their teammates, but they won’t get those off-campus reps. I still think they’ll be okay and I’m excited about what they will bring.”
Women’s tennis will wrap up its fall season next weekend as a select group of players will participate in the ITA Regionals.
Pitts, who was ineligible to play last year as a freshman, automatically qualified with her win last week and will be joined by Taal, who won a couple matches at last year’s ITAs.
Minja Gligic, who lost her first match in the Navy and Gold Invitational and then won the consolation bracket, is also a candidate to be selected for ITAs.
As the fall wraps up, the focus for McGlynn will be to condition the team to be ready for the spring.
“We’re going to definitely emphasize fitness, being well conditioned is going to be a positive for us,” McGlynn said. “We play a lot of weekend double headers, so Saturday-Sunday and we have one three day, which is Friday-Saturday-Sunday in Ohio. That recovery is critical to still come out the next day is still play at a good level.”
Evando Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @ethmps.