By Michael Evanko
The Youngstown State University women’s tennis team started its season at the Thunder in the Mountains event in Charleston, West Virginia, Sept. 20-22. The Penguins finished 2018 with a record of 6-18.
The team hopes to bounce back from last season. According to juniors Lucia Zagar and Tamara Teufl, the key to improving is consistency.
“We worked on consistent serves,” Zagar said. “We also played points because we think it’s very important when it comes to preparing for tournaments and matches.”
The Penguins started 2018 with a 3-5 record then went on a seven-match losing streak during which they didn’t win a single set in four straight matches. Eventually, they broke the streak with a win over the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Shortly after the win, the team went on another six-match slide.
Teufl and Zagar led the Penguins in wins in 2018, with 15 and 14 respectively. The duo said they are excited to lead a team that was young in 2018 but have gained valuable experience heading into the new season.
“We do have the same team as last year, but now we’re more experienced, which is why I think we will do better,” Zagar said. “Last year, our team was really young and we just [needed] more experience. A lot of us didn’t play in conference. Now, all of us already know how it is. That’s why I think our experience will make a difference,” she said.
Teufl thinks the lack of freshmen may give the team an edge this year.
“Last year, we had a really young team, new players, transfers, and I think this year, since there are no freshmen on our team right now, I think that’s the big difference from last year,” she said.
In 2018, the YSU roster was made up of one freshman, three sophomores, one junior and one senior. This year’s roster has no freshmen, one sophomore, three juniors and two seniors.
The team roster has nearly stayed the same from last season to this season.
One thing that brings the group together is something they all have in common: none of the members on the team are from the United States.
While some may think that the players all being from different countries and cultures would separate them, Zagar disagrees.
“Because we are all international, it actually brings us more together,” she said. “We understand that we are a part of a family. It’s something new that we started here, so we help each other a lot, and it helps us that we have someone who is in the same spot.”
Teufl said she thinks the cultural difference is an advantage for the team.
“We get along pretty well,” she said. “Since we’re all from different countries, it’s a benefit because we have different cultures. We’re all sitting in the same boat. Everyone came to the U.S. not knowing how it’s going to be, and we can help each other out.”
The Penguins have a short break until they participate in the ITA Midwest Regional Championships on Oct. 16.