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Tennis Mixes Experience With Fresh Faces

Tennis Mixes Experience With Fresh Faces

By Monica Espitia, Podcast EditorTennis

This year, the tennis team aims at earning a spot at the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, remaining undefeated in non-conference action and maintaining the highest overall GPA in the athletic department.

The team is formed by seniors Shelby Bickel, Leigh Anne McAfee and Monica Espitia; sophomores Morgan Sheehan and Gabriela van Oostsroom; and freshmen Hannah Ammons and Kelsey Vanquaethem.

“We have some seasoned veterans and some fresh talent,” Langley said.

“I wish for our seniors to have the best season of their careers. They put a lot of time into UNCP on and off the courts. I want to push them to leave it all out on the courts and leave a legacy.”

Some of the most important conference matches, Langley said, will be North Georgia, Georgia Southwestern, Young Harris and Lander.

Outside of the Peach Belt, Langley mentioned Newberry, Ashland, Clark Atlanta and Converse as being  the toughest opponents.

“We will play Davis and Elkins for the first time ever over spring break,” she said.          

“I think all of these new teams will help keep it fresh for us because they will provide new challenges and new faces across the net.”

In spite of some minor injuries in the first weeks of practice, the Lady Braves have shown improvements in their overall fitness level, Langley said.

According to her, this improvement is in part thanks to the team’s strength and conditioning coach Josh Gooding, who pushes the players hard in workouts and makes then want to get stronger.

Based on the results from last year, Langley said the team needs to focus on getting more wins in doubles to take some pressure off from singles.

“We need to play an aggressive style and out pressure on our opponents, while also taking care of putting the ball away when we have the chance.”

Langley also said the team needs to get more wins in the bottom half of the ladder.

“I hope this team does things no other tennis team at UNCP has done before” Langley added.

Langley’s team will officially open the 2015 campaign at home on Feb. 1 at 1:00 p.m. against Converse.

Photo by Sara Owen. Leigh-Anne McAfee chases down a return in a match last season.