The womens tennis program hasn’t had much success in the past, but this years young core have the potential to build something truly special here at Roosevelt.
Last season was a low point, as they went 0-14 overall and 0-7 in CCAC conference play. It’s been a different story this campaign, however, as the youthful Lakers squad is already seeing immense improvement on the court. The team is coming off a dominant 9-0 victory against Concordia on Feb. 22. Freshmen Gina Odisho, Kyla Eaton and Ava Collins are leading the way aftering grabbing the top three spots in the lineup, and they all took care of their singles matches in runway fashion. Odisho got the job done in comfortable 6-2 and 6-1 wins, while Eaton won 6-2 and 6-0 and Collins won 7-5 and 6-1.
“That win over Concordia was big. Last year, they crushed us. This year, their coach had told me they’d improved some. And then we wiped them out.” said womens tennis Head Coach Greg Couch.
The freshman weren’t the only ones who saw success, as returning sophomore Meryem Ahmed won 6-1 and 6-1. Senior Emma Renteria lost her first set but battled back in the second to win 6-4 and then won the tiebreaker 10-5. Junior LeAnn Peschel won two hard fought sets 6-4 and 6-3.
Their coach had high praise for the team following the big win. “The thing that really stands out about this team is how tough these women are,” said Couch. “All of them. I mean to win 9-0 over a good team meant that every last one of them was not willing to give up anything. We already saw signs of it in the fall. When we played Aurora University, it was four matches apiece and it all came down to LeAnn Peschel’s singles match. She was just about to lose and then at the last minute she simply turned it on and won.”
Freshman Kyla Eaton and Ava Collins, criminal justice and hospitality/tourism management, added input of their own following Fridays win, with both looking toward the future of the program.
“The team went 0-14 last year so we had to start from the ground up. There isn’t any pressure on us so we just go out and have fun,” said Eaton. “It was really a revenge game for us. They whooped us last year and we just wanted to go out and have fun and show them that we’re good.”
“I just like seeing coach happy,” said Collins. “He doesn’t put any pressure on us and we can only continue to go up.”
With the three freshman at the core, Couch is now looking to get rid of the programs “losing culture” for good. The Lakers first three match win streak in the fall came with their dominant win over Concordia, which shows that the team is heading in the right direction.
Meryem Ahmed, psychology major, was apart of last years 0-14 season, can already see the change in culture. “This year is definitely a whole new atmosphere,” Ahmed said. “Everyone is engaged in practice and we all look to support each other. I feel like we finally have a real team and I hope to only grow and get better from here.”
The Lady Lakers continue their spring season in Orlando from March 11-15 before returning home for a match against St. Francis on March 20.
“Our goal for this year is to be the best women’s team Roosevelt has ever had,” said Couch. “Roosevelt has never won more than six matches overall or more than two conference matches. We will beat both of those numbers and I expect us to make it to the conference playoffs.”