UMass tennis looks to take advantage of difficult competition this weekend

By Christopher Marino

 

Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian
(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts tennis team will head to Hanover, New Hampshire this weekend for the Big Green Invitational, its final competition until January, where the team will look to take advantage of recent strong play in practice that has the team riding high with confidence.

After the doubles team of Ana Yrazusta and Carol Benito reached the round of 16 at the ITA Northeast Regionals, UMass coach Judy Dixon said she is feeling confident in the standing of her team moving forward, despite the fact that her top doubles pair entered that competition seeded third.

“Considering that we lost to the team that ended up losing in the finals it was a quite good result,” Dixon said. “We were seeded third and did not get as far as we wanted but we played them good…considering who we lost to it was a positive result, we played them hard.”

The Minutewomen look to build on that strong play, as well as their encouraging play in practice over the 10 days since the ITA regionals, at the upcoming invitational, which will be hosted by Dartmouth College.

This next weekend allows Dixon’s team to test the competitiveness she praised against a tough field that includes Dartmouth, Minnesota and Denver.

“There’s only an upside (to this tournament), no downside. They have an opportunity to not only maintain their regional ranking but move up into the national rankings” Dixon said.

UMass’ top doubles pair of Yrazusta and Benito came into this season ranked fourth in the ITA’s Northeast Regional Rankings, which registers as the highest ranking in the tennis program’s history. So now more than ever, the opportunity is there for this women’s team to break into the national picture.

Despite opening this fall season with a loss against Connecticut, the Minutewomen still have the ability to take the program places it hasn’t seen before.

“I think that UConn was a real wake up call for us, the competition coming up is quite high and it becomes a good goal to succeed in this tournament,” Dixon said. “It gives me a chance to see if there has been real movement since the UConn loss, there has been a real change attitude-wise since then and intensity has been high.

The encouraging play at the ITAs lit a fire for the team, according to Dixon, and showed it could hang with the best opponents they come up against and a wave of increased intensity in practice that their optimistic coach hopes they ride heading into the last weekend of play until the new year.

After the Big Green Invite, the Minutewomen only have a limited number of practices before NCAA rules restrict them from practicing again until late January. Consequently, this increases the importance of success against the upcoming competition this weekend.

“We’re probably only going to see them two-and-a-half weeks more before we’re not allowed to practice after Dec. 5,” Dixon said. “It’s on them to continue what we have been doing here while they’re home.”

The three-day tournament will take place from Nov. 6-8.

Christopher Marino can be reached at [email protected]