BY TURNER BLAUFUSS
The Dragons tennis team has won their first conference match-ups with ease and look to make a run in the tough Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. MSUM coach Oliver Summers is impressed with his team’s start and knows success is within reach for his squad.
“The team’s looking really good. We’ve been working hard in the offseason, and players have been coming in and playing well,” Summers said.
The Dragons faced off against University of Minnesota-Duluth and University of Minnesota-Crookston, winning by scores of 8-1 and 7-2, respectively. The competition was familiar to the team and the margin of victory was better than last year’s.
“We just got off to a great start to start 2-0 in the conference. It couldn’t be a better start. We beat (Duluth and Crookston) comfortably, and it was a lot closer last year, so that was good,” Summers said.
Two young players have emerged as leaders early on with two players undefeated with wins against St. Benedict and the two conference opponents. Freshman Jessamy Jones and sophomore
Morgan Smith are off to a great start and look to keep improving.
“So far we’ve got two players that are unbeaten. Our No. 1 Jessamy Jones and our No. 4 Morgan Smith are undefeated in singles,” Summers said.
Other newcomers besides Jones have been contributing with freshman Rebecca Lukes and senior transfer Cortnei Chance. Summers mentioned the key to the newcomers’ and the veterans’ success has been their steady play and patience on the court.
“One thing our players in singles have done is being really consistent. We’ve been hanging in the points really well, and our players haven’t been trying to hit winners too soon,” Summers said.
“The easiest way to win a tennis match is to let your opponents beat themselves … our players have been doing a good job of that.”
The current area of improvement is the Dragons’ doubles. The singles have been carrying the squad, and improvement in their doubles could mean getting over the hump against tough squads like Augustana College and Winona State in a year that has shown a lot of adjustment throughout the conference.
“Something we still need work at is our doubles … we’ve been working on that a lot in practice,” Summers said. “Augustana has won the conference the last five years, and Winona is very tough every year. The conference as a whole has shown a lot of changing in coaching, and a lot of new players have been doing well.”
The squad has three seniors to turn to for leadership. Joining Chance are longtime Dragons Kaitlin McNary and Kaitlyn Emerson.
“They know the routine and have been helping a lot of the other players out. The whole team is gelling really well. We’re very lucky,” Summers said.
The Dragons move on to play at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Courts Plus in Fargo against the University of Mary in conference play.
Summers mentioned it will be a competitive matchup and expects his team to be ready.
“Our next match will be a tough test and will come down to one or two matches,” Summers said.