Tennis teams to begin conference play

The Stevenson University tennis teams are preparing for upcoming conference matches beginning in early April. In preparation, the teams are staying confident in their skill set and improving each day on the court. Coach Evan Clifton foresees tough competition ahead but is sure that the teams’ hard work will carry them forward.

Sophomore Colleen Martin swings through a forehand during the Mustangs home match against York College. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Sophomore Colleen Martin swings through a forehand during the Mustangs’ home match against York College. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Both men’s and women’s teams have been putting in hard work over the off-season and in pre-conference play. Although the teams have had a tough start to the season, Clifton said he is not worried, since when he made the schedule in the fall he had this challenging start in mind.

“In our lead up to conference play in April, I wanted us to become accustomed to playing at a level above what we were used to seeing in conference play,” Clifton said. Competing against top-level teams such as York College and Shenandoah University has proved to the Mustangs that they can compete with the best.

Compared to last year, this year’s teams are stronger, which has improved their mobility, speed and flexibility on the court, said Clifton.

Senior Conrad Ellis believes that they are a fitter team than in years past, and that is directly evident from their matches. “Even if a loss occurs, we are in that third set with our opponent instead of fading away,” he said.

Junior Bryan Gieselman hits an inside-out forehand during the Mustang's home match against York College. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Junior Bryan Gieselman hits an inside-out forehand during the Mustangs’ home match against York College. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

The team will put their strength to use in upcoming conference matches against Lycoming, Albright and Lebanon Valley. They will end their season facing their biggest competition, rival Messiah College. Although the Eagles lost some top players last year, they will still be the team to beat due to their recruiting class. Stevenson understands Messiah’s serving capabilities, so the Mustangs will practice accordingly. Clifton believes that if the teams can stay focused on the process of becoming a bit better than they were the day before, then, he said, “the results and the ‘big picture’ will take care of themselves.”

The teams will kick off conference play on April 2 when they travel to Lycoming. The next home game for the Mustangs will be on April 5 against Albright.

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