Tennis ready for conference play

Stevenson tennis hosted Penn State Harrisburg on Friday afternoon in their first home match of the season.

With conference play coming up shortly, the Stevenson women’s tennis team (3-6) handed Penn State Harrisburg a 9-0 defeat, while the men’s side (1-8) suffered their second straight loss as they lost 6-2.

Stevenson’s Kelsi Mentzer awaits the serve from her opponent on March 29 against Penn St. Harrisburg. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Both teams have struggled to find a solid lineup from their 3-6 in singles and 2-3 in doubles. The Mustangs started their 2017 spring campaign in South Carolina at the Spring Tennisfest hosted by PTR (Professional Tennis Registry), as rain postponed the home opener against Penn State Abington. It was the Mustangs’ first Spring Break trip in a long time,  said second-year head coach Evan Clifton.

The teams didn’t fare as well on the trip as they were expecting. The sole win that week came against Marietta with scores of 8-1 and 6-3. The men dominated the match, with all their singles wins coming in straight sets, led by No. 1 senior captain Brian Gieselman who at the time got his second straight victory. Clifton gave him very high praise: “Brian Gieselman, our senior captain, has been playing phenomenally and is on a three-match winning streak [now up to four straight] and is playing lights out.”

Gieselman and doubles partner, Wornden Ly, went on a three-match winning streak against Marietta, FDU-Florham, and Penn St. Harrisburg. Clifton hoped that the No. 1 duo’s success in opening the day would inspire the rest of the team in doubles and singles matches as play went on.

The women’s side has featured strong play from two freshmen, Jenna Skove and Kelsi Mentzer. As a doubles team, the two picked up their second straight victory, 8-6, over Harrisburg. Skove as the No. 1 will be under a lot of pressure as she faces top talent from other schools. As a freshman, she “has had a ton of close matches this year, won some, lost some in third set tie breaks,” said Clifton. “For a freshman being asked to play No. 1 against a lot of really good players is a role and big shoes to fill and has been tough throughout. “

The key now for the Mustangs’ men is for the improvement of the No’s. 3 and 4 to help keep momentum after strong openings from Gieselman and Ly. On the women’s side, the team will see if their dominance over Penn State Harrisburg can be replicated at their first true road test Friday, March 31 at Shenandoah with a quick turn around the next day at home against Lycoming to open conference play.

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