UMass women’s tennis prepares for first duel meet against UConn

By Victor Pusateri

(Photo by Araz Havan)
(Araz Havan/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s tennis team travels to Connecticut to face the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut Thursday for the Minutewomen’s first dual match of the year.

UMass will try to build off a solid outing at the Army Invitation, where it took home multiple singles and doubles victories. Dominant performances by Anna Woosley, Chanel Glasper, Carol Benito and freshman Ana Yrazusta Acosta kept the Minutewomen in contention in the finals for their numerous fights.

Both teams are very familiar with each other, as they have faced off in many close matches over the years. UMass has had the upper hand the last few times these two teams have met, most recently at the Army Invitation where UMass won two matches against the Huskies. Prior to that matchup, the Minutewomen rallied to beat UConn from three-matches down last year at the Mullins Center courts.

Every time these two teams meet, it has a rivalry feeling to it, according to head coach Judy Dixon.

“Both teams really want to beat the other,” she said. “We’ve beaten them the last couple of times but they’ve improved over the last couple of years and are really set on beating us.”

Leading up to this match, UMass has only participated in tournament play this season. This dual match will give Dixon a good idea of how much progress her team has made not only overall, but in doubles competition as well.

A point of emphasis coming into this season for the Minutewomen was to improve on their doubles play as Dixon felt it held them back last year. Throughout the season, Dixon’s main focus has been on doubles positioning and breaking down doubles progress in attempt to improve from last year year’s struggles. According to Dixon, they are “light years” ahead of where they were last season at this time.

Dixon also believes this match will be good experience for her younger players as it will give them big game experience. This will be Acosta’s first dual match at the collegiate level, so it will be good for her to get accustomed to playing away from home.

There are a few things that Dixon expects from her team in the upcoming matchup against the Huskies. For starters, she wants her players to play tough and aggressive because that’s when she believes they are at their best. If UMass plays conservative, it allows UConn to control the match, preventing the Minutewomen from playing their game.

Dixon also wants to see improvement and maturity from her team. Having already beaten the Huskies earlier this season, she expects nothing less than to win those matches again. Dixon believes every match is winnable as long as her players do their jobs, stay focused on the task at hand, and don’t get effected by outside factors.

Another factor that worries Dixon is the change in weather. Due to the drop in temperature the ball travels slower and makes it harder for someone who doesn’t normally hit the ball fast to put speed on it. Also the temperature at the start of matches is drastically different from when the sun sets down.

With the match starting at 2p.m. it will be worth nothing whether or not there’s a big decrease in temperature by the final matches and to see if it has a noticeable impact on the players.

 

Victor Pusateri can be reached at [email protected], and can be followed on Twitter @VictorPusateri.