A shaky start early on this season has put the Plattsburgh State women’s tennis team in an awkward spot, but they are not yet counting themselves out.
The way that the SUNYAC schedules their in-conference tennis matchups is different than any other sport in the conference.
While other sports teams typically have the luxury of starting their season playing against out-of-conference opponents in matches that will not affect their postseason ranking, tennis programs do not. They start their nonconference matches, the ones that count towards SUNYAC tournament seeding, within the first few weeks of the season.
PSUC had not yet found its rhythm early on, and now that they are playing much better as a team, is unable to boost their ranking, and will be forced to play its first-round matchup against consistent force and winner of six of the last seven SUNYAC championships, Geneseo.
Head coach Annmarie Curle and other coaches in the conference have taken it upon themselves to try to change what they believe is a flawed system.
“All of us [SUNYAC] coaches have talked about it and decided instead of having the conference schedule our games for us that one early weekend, we are going to do that ourselves,” Curle said. “Hopefully that means we can get a couple matches or in-conference games under our belt before heading into conference play.”
This scheduling change will not take effect this season, so in the time being, the Cardinals have to work with what they do have; three more matches to gear up for their tough SUNYAC matchup.
Junior hitter Jacqueline Cirello believes that the team is functioning very well right now and has a chance to compete against anyone. Cirello says that her squad is working extremely hard, and that combined with Curle implementing different practicing techniques is leading to them performing as well as she has seen at PSUC.
“Coach has definitely shown us a lot more different ways to practice,” Cirello said. “We are in a lot better shape which is allowing us to compete in matches for much longer without getting tired.”
Junior Kaitlyn Healy is on the same page as Cirello. She believes the team is starting to play their best at the perfect time, and that they are capable of competing against anyone they face.
“I think our caliber of play has really stepped up,” Healy said. “Although our record may not 100 percent show it, we are doing very well.”
PSUC has never won a SUNYAC championship, and though that is most likely not on the schedule for this year, it may not be too far away.
Both Healy and Cirello, who were already on the Cards when Curle took over as head coach, noted how she has managed to put the program in a much better place in just two years on the coaching staff.
“Coach Curle really knows what is best for us. She is organized, motivated, really knows what she is doing and always pumps us up,” Healy said.
Cirello’s opinion is similar.
“She just knows exactly what we need to do to get better and get to the top.”
Email Bailey Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org