Minutewomen open season against old foe Providence

By Jeffrey Okerman

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Saturday’s Oct. 1st season opener marks the first time since 2006 that Providence and the Massachusetts tennis team meet in dual match play.

Alex Mojcher/Collegian

Alex Mojcher/Collegian

Arriving at the Mullins Courts at 1 p.m. for the weekend clash, Providence will be looking to spring an early season upset over the Minutewomen.

The Massachusetts tennis squad will finally begin their regular season schedule on the back of its second successful preseason tournament at the Eastern Collegiate Invitational this past weekend.

Sophomore Jessica Podlofsky will be looked upon to contribute right away in this new season following her strong preseason performance, which earned her UMass Athlete of the Week honors.

“Jessica Podlofsky is riding high after this weekend,” said UMass coach Judy Dixon. “[Chanel] Glasper, too. They’re playing at the top of their games.”

Glasper has also been a standout performer, beginning her collegiate career on a 7-1 run, also grabbing a title at the Invitational. Though lineups are not officially announced, Glasper is also expected to be a factor in the singles matches this weekend.

While the team’s singles players appear prepared for the encounter, the doubles matches are shaping up to be more difficult than initially expected. With Chantal Swiszcz, a junior from Spain, having been ruled out of the match with wrist tendonitis, the doubles teams will be looking to their “new” teams in the match. With Swiszcz falling to injury, Dixon will be expecting other members of the team to prove themselves.

“The number two and three teams are new teams, so this is more difficult than I would have hoped,” said Dixon. “It is just a question of readiness in doubles. [Swiszcz’s injury] will give others the opportunity to step up. We’re giving Jocelyn Providence a chance to play singles. I think she’ll relish the chances she is getting.”
Despite the mixing-and-matching of the doubles teams, Coach Dixon remains confident in her team while still reminding them that the Friars are not to be taken lightly.

The Minutewomen’s No. 1 singles player, Sonia Bokhari, remains in line to face the Friars’ number one as well. Julia Comas is also expected to be a part of this match, as she looks to rebuild confidence, which Dixon has classified as “lacking.”

Along with the two competing sides, weather is also expected to play a role in the upcoming weekend meeting. Having practiced in temperatures of 80 degrees or higher over the past few days, the forecast for the weekend anticipates high 50s, which will affect the speed of the ball on the courts. The squad can expect it to move quicker in the heat, and slower in the colder temperatures.

These two former rival programs have seen each other traveling down separate paths over the past few years. Previously, when the UMass program was in its infancy, the Friars were a fully funded program, but have since become a limited scholarship program. Conversely, the Minutewomen’s program has continued to expand.

“We’ve essentially swapped directions as programs. We used to be big rivals with Providence,” said Dixon.

“Still, it’s a good way to start the season, with a dual match, [but] you’d have to give us the edge. I’m expecting a good fight, and we’ll come out with our guns blazing.”

In a season where they are hoping to be competitors for the Atlantic 10 championships, the Minutewomen will look to make a good first impression at home.

Jeff Okerman can be reached at [email protected]