Women's Tennis Opens CAA's At No. 2 Seed
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - The UNCW women's team attempts to make a run at the CAA title this weekend when Coach Jenny Garrity's club travels to Norfolk, Va., to compete in the 2012 Virginia 529 Colonial Athletic Association Tennis Championships at Old Dominion's Folkes-Stevens Tennis Complex.
The Seahawks, who posted their highest regular season finish in school history, are coming off a 14-6 spring season that included a 6-1 record in CAA action. As a result, UNCW is the No. 2 seed in the 11-team event that runs Thursday through Sunday.
"I think the girls are really excited going into the tournament because they've earned it by getting some good nationally-ranked wins and competing against tough teams all season," said Garrity. "They know they're one of three or four teams that have a real good shot at winning the tournament. The top four teams are pretty even and we're looking forward to competing up there."
UNCW opens play at 11 a.m. Friday when the Seahawks battle the winner of Thursday's opening-round match between No. 7 Delaware and No. 10 Hofstra.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Garrity. "We've won a lot of matches recently that we haven't played overly well in, or been completely healthy for, and that has helped us realize that there's a lot more we bring to the table than just our games. We know the weekend is going to challenge us more than any other time all season and I feel this is where our best tennis and our toughness mindset comes out the most."
The Seahawks must win three matches in three days to capture the CAA title and the league's subsequent NCAA berth. "Every match is going to be difficult. I like our fitness level, our strength and our toughness. We'll have to use that to our advantage if we are fortunate to play multiple days."
Overall, Garrity believes the Seahawks, who stand 76-38 (.667) in singles and 34-20 (.630) in doubles, can break through by following the same blueprint as the regular season.
"It will take toughness, discipline and team support. We need to be very intelligent when we're on defense and very disciplined when we're on offense to not try and do more than we need to win individual matches."
Seniors Christina Lee and Casey Dashiell have played a big role in the success of this year's team, impressing Garrity throughout the year.
"Going into a tournament that is as tough as this one, leadership will be critical. Christina and Casey have done a very good job of leading our team all year. I don't think we're going to encounter anything we haven't seen in practice against each other and matches all year. I think that's a testament to Christina and Casey and their unwavering work ethic in practice and getting everyone prepared to play every day."
Along with Lee and Dashiell, the "A Team" of Angie Sekely and Alyssa Ritchie have been exceptional in singles. Sekely, a sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, leads the team with a 16-5 record, while Ritchie, a rookie from Franklin, Ohio, is a remarkable 15-3 with a 12-match winning streak.
The Seahawks have been especially good in doubles lately, winning the early point in seven of the last nine matches. Overall, UNCW has won the doubles point 12 times in 20 opportunities this spring.
The women's championship opens Thursday with No. 8 Drexel taking on No. 9 Towson at 9 a.m., followed by Delaware against Hofstra at 11:30 a.m. and No. 6 James Madison versus No. 11 George Mason at 2 p.m.
In quarterfinal play Friday, No. 3 Georgia State meets the JMU/Mason winner at 8:30 a.m., followed by UNCW against the Delaware/Hofstra winner at 11 a.m. In the afternoon session, No. 1 VCU faces the Drexel/Towson winner at 1:30 p.m. followed by No. 4 William & Mary against No. 5 Old Dominion at 4 p.m.The semifinal matches are slated for 2 p.m. Saturday and the CAA women's championship match gets under way at 2 p.m. Sunday.