The Massachusetts tennis team will return to the courts this weekend after a week of practice ruined by weather in Hanover, N.H. to participate in the three-day Big Green Invitational.
The majority of the Minutewomen have not played a competitive match since Oct. 9 at Fordham though a select few were invited to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regionals last week.
With this long of a layoff, UMass coach Judy Dixon was hoping for some good practices the past week, but Mother Nature had different plans.
The weekend snowstorm has made it impossible to use the Mullins Center courts for the past three days and the indoor courts the squad usually uses in inclement weather are located at Hampshire College, which has also been closed due to the storm.
Dixon said she went to the courts with a shovel in hand on Tuesday with hopes of at least allowing her team to get the feel for playing tennis again.
“We have not picked up a tennis racket in three days, which is not my favorite [idea of practice],” said Dixon.
Nevertheless, the tournament in Hanover this weekend is still scheduled to occur and UMass will have to bring its best effort in spite of how little the team has been able to practice.
Dixon described this weekend’s tournament as being in a mock dual format as the Minutewomen will participate in eight singles matches and four doubles matches. The Minutewomen will start off facing Dartmouth and Yale on Friday with doubles matches going first. Later on in the weekend the squad will face Boston University on Saturday and St. John’s on Sunday.
This weekend’s action will be the final match play UMass will compete in until Jan. 28 of next year when it begins its spring season. This means that the weekend is crucial for Dixon in finding out where her team stands for the regular season.
When asked about how she feels about her team at the moment, Dixon said that it’s hard to know because she hasn’t seen her team since Friday.
“I’m nervous that we are not as prepared as I would like us to be,” said Dixon.
But the comforting fact about this team is its depth.
“It all comes down to preparation, but I believe we are one of the deepest teams I have ever had,” said Dixon, “And we will see how that goes this weekend.”
The Minutewomen have a roster filled with players Dixon said she can turn to in order to get the job done this weekend. UMass has a good mixture of experience and leadership as well as young talent.
As usual, the squad will look for a strong performance from sophomore Jessica Podlofsky, who started off the season with an impressive nine straight singles wins before her first loss. The Minutewomen will also look for singles players Julia Comas and Chanel Glasper and their multiple doubles teams to help secure the victory in this weekend’s tournament.
While the depth is certainly helpful, Dixon said that alone will not be enough.
“We are out-of-sync right now and Yale, St. John’s and Dartmouth have not had the three-day layoff we have had so it’s a little tougher on us,” said Dixon.
On the other hand Dixon said that she has no doubt that her team will be ready for this weekend, “The next three days of practice will be key but when we get there and start competing [I’m confident] that we will play fairly solid.”
Cameron McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MDC_McDonough.