The calm before the storm

By Christopher Marino

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

After a strong March that saw the Massachusetts tennis team win four straight matches, largely due to an undefeated road trip to South Carolina over spring break, the 9-6 Minutewomen are now in the midst of a two week break before match play resumes this Saturday versus Fairleigh Dickinson.

“We want to let their bodies recover,” coach Judy Dixon said “It was hard on their bodies going down south because we were practicing twice a day and the matches were long, a lot of them three set matches. So this was a good break to let their bodies recover and then we make our last push between now and A-10’s.”

This portion of the season represents a transition between indoor and outdoor play with the next three matches for the Minutewomen alternating between inside and outside. The lull in competition represents an opportunity for the athletes to build on their versatility between the two, Dixon said.

“I wanted them to get used to the transition (from indoor to outdoor) and not knowing where we are going to be, he explained “I want them to be able to transition easily.”

Following a time period that saw three victories in one week, the Minutewomen were riding a fair bit of momentum that they are now tasked with picking up two weeks later. Now, the team finds themselves in a role they did not occupy previously in the season.

“Now that we have these six matches in front of us, the Monkeys on our back now because we’re the favorites for the last six and we have to learn to play like that,” Dixon stated. “We’re not used to that. We went through a stretch of being the underdog and we’re going to be the favorite for the last six and we have to learn how to play like that. Now I have to keep them match tough between now and April 24th.”

To accomplish that goal, Dixon and her staff have been working on an individualized approach to their athletes, focusing on optimizing each and every one of their games rather than putting the whole team through the same approach.

“This time of year is not a matter of working on major things, it’s a matter tweaking some things here and there, so what we’ve done is taken the kids individually the last 10 days or so of practice instead of working on them as a group and tweaking what goes for their individual game,” Dixon said.

In order to see similar results of the success of the Minutewomen’s undefeated March, Dixon believes the Minutewomen simply need to show the same competitiveness they did over the spring break road trip.

“When things get tough they have to be able to go out and compete and they showed they could do that in spring break. Now I think it’s just a matter of belief and just go out and do it,” she said.

With that, the focus at this point in the season is squarely on the team’s ultimate goal. Since the start of the season, an A-10 championship has been in the back of the mind of the entire organization, and now that goal is on the horizon with the tournament just over three weeks away.

“It (A-10’s) has been in the back of our minds since last April when we had such a horrendous ending. This years A-10’s have been in their mind right from then, there hasn’t been any other focus: not a match, not a practice, not anything. This has been the focus because they want so much to get back into that division again,” Dixon said.

Christopher Marino can be reached at [email protected]