One of the biggest differences between high school tennis and college tennis is the emphasis on footwork.
Plattsburgh State tennis head coach Annmarie Curle said footwork is especially important to the college game, but is necessary at any level to be a successful player.
Assistant coach Joe Higgins agreed, saying strong footwork allows players to move around on the court with speed and tempo, which increases the number of opportunities players have on a certain point.
Sophomore Kristen Napper said she has noticed the increased attention to footwork since joining the team. She said that during high school, her coach had focused on footwork, but she said Curle pays more attention to it.
Higgins, who was with the team last year under former head coach George Stackpole, said both Curle and Stackpole focused on footwork, but they have different techniques that separate their different coaching styles.
Napper said she still needs to improve her own footwork because she catches herself in a stationary position.
“I’ll find myself standing still, and I hear coach in the back of my mind saying, ‘Make sure your feet are moving,’” Napper said.
Curle said the team uses repetition, court positioning and constant movement to improve its footwork.
“A point, which is a pretty short amount of time, is as long as our drills in duration to prepare for that moment,” Curle said.
Players can improve their footwork by moving quicker overall, learning different stances and understanding their positioning on the court, Higgins said.
“I think facing tougher teams improved our footwork and showed us how much better they are when it comes to footwork,” he said.
Napper said the team does various drills during practice that focus on movement and court positioning. She said Curle puts a lot of emphasis on conditioning, which is important because it isn’t just knowing when to move to the ball, but also being to make it to the ball.
Curle said the team does conditioning drills that are related to footwork because players can’t be stagnant on the court.
After last weekend’s matches with Oswego and Hamilton, PSUC’s record moved to 3-6 overall and 1-3 in SUNYAC play.
The Cardinals’ next match will be Saturday against Geneseo (7-0, 5-0 SUNYAC) in the SUNYAC tournament, which will be held in Binghamton.
Geneseo has defeated Oswego, New Paltz and Cortland all teams PSUC has struggled with, despite ultimately beating Oswego 5-4.
However, Curle said the Cards are prepared for a tough match against Geneseo and will give it everything they have.
Napper said footwork is a factor in wins and losses and was key to PSUC’s victory against Oswego.
“Footwork is everything when it comes to wins and losses because when you take away all of the intangibles,” Higgins said, “tennis is basically whoever can get to the ball.”
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