By Collin Bolebruch and Liam Sample
The Plattsburgh State women’s tennis team began its conference play going uphill Sept 10, taking on the defending SUNYAC Champion SUNY Oneonta Red Dragons. The Cardinals fell 8-1 at the Memorial Tennis Courts to open with an 0-1 conference record and bring it to 1-2 overall. Despite the large margin of defeat, the Cardinals still rallied in many of the matches.
The Cardinals were the odd man out last season, after finishing with a 3-4 conference standing, just one spot shy of its first SUNYAC Playoff berth since 2017. Coming into this season, Plattsburgh set a goal of qualification.
“I feel like our team is really motivated. We’ve been working really hard and everyone has been staying after practice and really trying to get better,” senior captain Cydney Bond said. “People are really stepping up to the plate, really excited to hopefully get to the final four.”
The team faced their biggest hardship in doubles, starting with No. 1 pair junior Hallie Hurtiwz and Bond faced off against Oneonta junior Julia Holtermann and senior Maxie Karen. The Red Dragons prevailed, taking a swift 8-1 win.
“I love playing with Hallie. She has really great energy, she can handle those tough balls at number one,” Bond said. “I think we just need a little bit more practice and I’m excited to see how we do in the next few matches.”
The Cardinals lost in its next double match, with its second duo of senior Alyana Leandry and junior Jackie Svantner, by a score of 3-8. Following the defeat, Plattsburgh found its most success in doubles when junior sisters Samantha and Nicole Svantner brought Oneonta’s No. 3 pair to a 7-7 tiebreak, where they were narrowly beaten 3-7. The Red Dragons went undefeated in doubles, but the Cardinals put in all the effort.
Nicole Svantner said that it is “awesome” playing with Samantha and how they read each other well on the court. She described the match as a “battle,” and that they fought back after going down 1-4 at the start.
Going into the singles matchups, Holtermann’s game was put on display, taking down Bond in two sets and only allowing the senior captain to win two games. Bond said that her opponent was a “strong hitter” and could easily put the ball away to take advantage of points.
“I had some offensive chances, but tactically I really just tried to get the ball away from her. I tried to move her and keep her on the run and make her as uncomfortable as I could,” Bond said. “I think tennis is mental, so that’s something I can always work on and just being more comfortable in my shots and being more offensive rather than defensive is something that I am hoping to work on.”
Leandry, Samantha Svantner, and junior Sarah Benowitz lost in similar fashion, digging a deep hole in the scoresheet for the Cardinals. By the No. 5 singles match, Plattsburgh started to get into its groove. Hurwitz faced off against junior Madelyn Brophy in what would be the Cardinals’ lone win on the day. Hurwitz had her back against the wall early after being beaten handily in the first, but she clawed back for a gritty 6-4 win in the second set to force the tiebreaker.
“I was really hoping to win in two sets and she smoked me in the first set and had me running,” Hurwitz said. “She was a stronger hitter than I was, so I really had to focus on consistency. I had to slow down my game and just focus on getting the ball over the net.”
Hurwitz hung on to take the tiebreaker 1-0 and gave Plattsburgh a much-needed boost of energy for its final singles match.
“It’s not fun to be the lone winner because it doesn’t feel like something to celebrate. It’s a team sport as well as an individual sport,” Hurwitz said.
Nicole Svantner followed Hurwitz’s performance by taking freshman Danielle Copp to a tiebreaker through two hard-fought sets, but eventually lost 0-1.
Nicole Svantner expressed afterwards that she was not as frustrated as the day of the match. She said she gave it her all, despite how tough the match was, adding that next time she’ll “get it.” She also echoed her teammates and said. “The outcome of the game didn’t really show how hard we all played.”
For Plattsburgh, it has to continue this momentum from the end of the match into this weekend, where it continues conference play against two SUNYAC rivals. On Sept 16, it matches up against SUNY Cortland, whom it lost to last season by a score of 2-7. The next day Sept. 17, it takes on Oswego State — a team Plattsburgh has a 12-1 record against since 2009, including a current seven-game win streak dating back to 2015.
“I think this week during practice, we’re really going to do some competitive play,” Bond said. “We’re going to be more comfortable since we’ve already played a few matches going into Cortland. I’m hoping that we’ll be fired up and ready to go.”