By Collin Atwood
With an already historic regular season completed, the Springfield College women’s tennis team hosted its first ever NEWMAC tournament match this past Tuesday – only adding to their impressive year on the court.
The women’s regular season ended on April 27 with a 7-2 victory against Mount Holyoke. That match marked their 12th win of the season which is tied for the Pride’s most wins in Division III program history.
“The key to any success is just kind of enjoying what you do on a daily basis,” said Springfield men’s and women’s tennis head coach Mike Louis. “There’s been a lot of joy at practice and competitions.”
Regular season play has concluded, but with a 12-5-1 record, the women earned the No. 4 seed in this year’s NEWMAC Championship. This is the highest seeding the women’s team has ever earned in the tournament.
The captivating season continued when the Pride beat Wheaton College 5-1 on Tuesday, May 3 in the NEWMAC Quarterfinals, which was their 13th win of the season – the most in the Pride’s Division III program history.
Louis is hoping that they can go as far as possible for the women’s only senior this season, Rielly Malz. The Pride will travel to MIT on Saturday, May 7 for the NEWMAC Semifinals.
“Hopefully we can keep squeezing out a couple more matches this season for her,” Louis said. “She’s definitely a special player we’ve had through the program. She has been the leader of this team and she’s a very big part of any and all of the success we’ve had and really a foundation for building for the future.”
The team is looking to carry this year’s momentum into the next season. With only one student-athlete graduating, the Pride will have many of the key pieces of this season’s success returning in the fall.
“The goal for them is to maintain those relationships and foster the new ones with their incoming girls,” Louis said. “It’s really important to build on what we had this season.”
Although the men’s team (3-12) didn’t pose a record as impressive as the women’s team, its success came from what they learned and how they battled through adversity.
“Outside of the results, it was a pretty successful season given the sense that they’re getting grittier and they’re understanding what it takes to compete for an entire season,” Louis said. “With each match, the guys got a lot better.”
The men’s team has five upperclassmen, but their class doesn’t show how experienced they are. There are some players on the team who have only played three collegiate matches despite the fact that they are juniors. The effects of shortened seasons due to the Coronavirus really impacted this year’s team.
“I think that type of adversity really paved the way for a lot more development and a different mindset for this group this season,” Louis said.
There have definitely been low points this season, but a high point for the men’s team came in March when both teams traveled to Florida to kickstart their seasons. The women’s team won all four of its matches and the men won three out of the four.
“Getting on a court outside for the first time in a bunch of months, the guys, to be able to flip it around and compete the way they did for the last three matches down there was awesome,” Louis said. “We had a lot of really good high moments in the season.”
The men’s team has three seniors on a roster of 10 players. The goal for the rest of the team is to practice over the summer so that its success can show up on the scoresheet.
“Maturity-wise, I think the guys grew up, collectively, a good amount in the last couple of weeks,” Louis said. “Looking into the next season, that’s going to be really valuable for us.”
Louis thinks that this year’s men’s and women’s teams are the closest any team has ever been. They all enjoyed the season together through the ups and downs.
“If we’re competing well and we’re competing together, we’re in a good spot,” said Louis.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics