Men’s and women’s to compete in separate tournaments, train for spring


Junior Constantin Schmitz serves a ball. Schmitz produced the most dual victories for men’s tennis in the 2015-2016 season, with a 19-3 record.

Clara Harrington, Sports Editor

Though both men’s and women’s tennis have a long time to go before league play begins, the teams are preparing for a competitive spring season by taking part in separate tournaments this coming weekend. Men’s tennis will head to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for the Crimson Tide Four-In-The-Fall invitational, while women’s tennis will attend Rice University’s fall invitational in Houston, both beginning on Sept. 23.

In 2016, men’s tennis top player Dominik Koepfer, who ranked No. 1 singles player of the year and was chosen for the 2016 All-Star Team, graduated. Now, the team is looking to its returning players and newcomers to bring the same standards of competition to the court.

In the upcoming season, the team’s primary focus is continuing to rebuild and gain momentum. During fall practices, the team has been integrating the incoming freshman class into its lineup. Saturday’s tournament at Alabama will mark the team’s first competition of the year, as well as the first opportunity to view the strengths and weaknesses of the new players.

“This first tournament is kind of a testing ground for the rest of the fall, and the spring,” men’s tennis head coach Mark Booras said. “Everybody’s kind of in the same spot when they come back, and what we’re trying to see is the level that our freshmen come in because we know what to expect from our upperclassmen and our sophomores. The exciting thing for us is getting to see the new guys.”

Among the teams participating in this weekend’s tournament are University of Alabama, University of Memphis and Columbia University. All three teams ranked in the top 50 last season; Columbia ranked the highest of the teams at 25th. With high-level competition, the tournament will serve as a way to gauge the team’s current abilities and what areas to improve upon before spring.

“The competition we’re playing is our level,” Booras said. “Some of the guys are better than us, some of them are a little weaker than us.”

On the other side of the Mississippi River, junior Sade Atkinson, sophomore Sofia Kurtz and freshman Christina Sisti and will represent the women’s team in the Rice fall invitational.

“The three girls that we’re taking are all very tough, and we’re playing in a very tough field,” women’s tennis head coach Terri Sisk said. “A lot of [South Eastern Conference] teams are there. … We’re not really worried about the results, we’re just worried about the process. I expect all of us to compete well because we have been working pretty hard.”

Atkinson and junior Naz Karagoz represented the team in its first competition of the fall at the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawk Fall Tournament held Sept. 16-17. Although the duo triumphed over McNeese State University, they fell short in semifinals and lost to Southeastern Louisiana University 6-4.

The beginning of fall is a period of modifications for the women’s team. This is the first season that Atkinson and Karagoz have played doubles together, and the team is taking on three new freshmen players: Ivone Alvaro, Isabelle Entenza and Sisti. In addition, tournament games will be essential in adjusting the players to match play after a summer composed mainly of individual training.

“When they come back in, they’re still a little green, so they have to get back in the groove, back into a competition mindset,” Sisk said.

Though the team focuses on improving throughout the training season, the emphasis of each player’s game is not on winning but rather the process of becoming a top competitor in the spring.

The team struggled most with closing out matches in its past season, so remaining centered during long sets will be critical in ensuring future successes.

“This year, we’re really focusing on making sure we’re dialed in from the first point to the very last point in momentum swings,” Sisk said. “Sometimes we can get a little down on ourselves, and that ultimately hurt us. We’re working on being positive and playing to finish.”

The fall ultimately serves as a time for both the men’s and women’s teams to integrate the freshman class, highlight the players and make necessary adjustments to training. Sisk said she is looking forward to getting the team back on the court.

“We just want to go out, compete hard and make Tulane proud.”

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