By Ian Snowdeal
SPRINGFIELD — Since February 4 the Springfield College men’s and women’s tennis teams have been preparing for the beginning of their 2019 Spring season. With first-year head coach Mike Louis taking the reigns during the Fall season, the team is finding a new identity. The men’s team went 1-1 over the fall season while the women posted an impressive 3-0 record coming into the Spring.
Louis, who was announced as the head coach on August 29th, described his experience at Springfield up to this point as “exceeded any expectations, this is absolutely the best place I’ve ever had the chance to coach at.”
The women’s team is coming off an 8-8 season and their fifth-straight New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship appearance, while the men finished 6-9 and missed the NEWMAC Championships. With two seniors and three juniors, the women’s team is upperclassmen heavy this season and will look to continue off of their successes last season. The men’s team consists of four freshmen, one sophomore, junior and senior.
“What we are always trying to do is preach the fundamentals,” Louis said, when talking about his first season coaching the two different styled teams.
The men’s team will likely endure a learning curve through the season given their youth, while the women’s team will rely on their upperclassmen for leadership and performance.
Players to watch
Senior Court Honda is in his final season with the Pride. Last season he earned NEWMAC All-Conference honors for the second consecutive season.
“Court is definitely the player to watch, he’s definitely our most talented and best player,” said Louis.
Honda will be the team’s number one all season long and will look to use his talent and success to help carry this young team throughout the season.
“I think he is up for the challenge.” said Louis, “It’ll be exciting to see what he can do this season.”
Seniors Melissa Parrish and Emily Etter look to anchor the women’s team. The two are vocal leaders for the team and will bring experience and hard work to the courts all season.
Parrish will most likely be the team’s number one for the season and will have her hands full competing against the conferences best.
“She’ll have some tough competition but she’s playing with a strong enjoyment,” Louis said
Etter is one of the most consistent players on the team and impressed Louis during the Fall season.
“I saw her competing in some matches this Fall that just brought absolute joy to my heart just because of the way she battled through some adversity, there was just no quit,” he said. Etter will look to continue her successes and consistency during the season and bring the women’s team to a sixth consecutive NEWMAC Championship.
Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams have the potential to be successful on the courts this season. With a new head coach and a productive fall season for both teams, the Spring season is looking to be promising for both teams.
Both teams will travel to Orlando, Florida for their annual Spring break training trip, where they have found great success in the past. The men have posted an overall record of 11-2 in their past three seasons on the trip while the women boast a 7-1 record in their previous two seasons.
The schedule is jam-packed for the teams once they arrive in Florida as the women will compete in four matches in as many days and the men will compete in three matches in four days. “We will have the chance to do a lot of training in Florida,” said Louis. “It’s going to be a great week, to be set up and prepared for conference play.”
After the Spring break trip, the men and women will play Tuesday, March 26 for their first matches in New England. The women take on Smith — a conference opponent — and the men will travel to Salve Regina.
Louis is not worried about wins and losses this season, with the main goal of steady improvement. “If we push ourselves every day this season the wins will come.”
Photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics