“All of these girls are coming together quickly in a real positive way, and that will be necessary to compete against some of the schools we have coming up,” Dixon said.
Although the fall season is still young, Dixon believes that the previous weekend’s Eastern Collegiate Invitational was the perfect opportunity to evaluate how the Minutewomen will compete match-to- match for the near future, as UMass’ opponents compared favorably to upcoming rival schools.
“We’ve got a bunch of girls here who played well and I expect to see them build on this weekend going into the matches coming up,” Dixon said.
Last weekend provided insight into the projected singles lineup against upcoming opponents. UMass saw two of its younger players, last year’s A-10 All-Conference first team player, sophomore Julia Comas and freshman Jessica Podlofsky come away with single’s tournament championships.
“Julia and Jess played great. They never gave into the opponent during any match and played hard until the end,” Dixon said.
The singles lineup starts at the top with highly-recruited freshman Yuilana Motyl, who didn’t have a sufficient chance to compete at the tournament, losing in the second round of the Flight A bracket after receiving a first round bye. Comas is penciled in as the No.2, followed by a close battle between senior Candynce Boney and freshman Clara Matias for the No.3 spot. The No. 5 spot is currently still up for consideration between a couple players, notably senior Kaitlyn Carpenter, but very soon might be closed for discussion after Podlofsky’s performance over the weekend.
“We’re still working on some things in terms of lineups, but I feel confident with whatever we do will be the best for everyone,” Dixon said.
Doubles play, a crucial factor of collegiate tennis, is still in the process of being constructed for UMass. The weekend provided some assurance going into Fordham in terms of pairings, as Carpenter and sophomore Jocelyn Providence reached the Flight B doubles final, defeating four opponents along the way.
“It was good to see both of them work well together. They communicated all the time, and that’s what it takes to be successful in doubles matches,” Dixon said.
Although there are some highly-talented individual players on the UMass roster, the teamwork and cohesiveness of returning players and underclassmen will be the formula for success this year.
“You can’t win a collegiate event against another school alone. It takes everyone doing their part,” said Dixon. “We will make some adjustments along the way, but this is the group we’re going to compete with, and it seems like things are going well so far.”
Scott Cournoyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.