Newman Head Tennis Coach Shella Augspurger said two players have decided to leave the school for personal reasons, leaving the women’s tennis team with only six players to continue the rest of the season.
Sophomore Janneke Rijk decided to cut her semester short and head back home to Weert, Netherlands. And Sophomore Niamh Packer also resigned from the team with hopes of attending a different school in the fall.
In college tennis, a team needs six players to play a match. Augspurger said she’s nervous about how the team can manage playing so many matches without having alternates who could give other players a rest.
“Tennis is a grueling sport on your body because you’re individually playing every point by yourself,” she said. “There’s a lot of wear and tear on your body, so that’s why it’s nice to have more than six people on your team.”
This all happened as the team was coming off a string of dominating performances before the players faced their first defeat of the season Saturday with a tight 4-5 match against Lewis University, bringing their record to 8-1.
The Lady Jets were scheduled for a match on Friday against the No.10 ranked team in the conference, Drury, but that match was postponed, with a makeup date to be arranged.
Senior Katie Stoianova got a win after bouncing back from a first-set loss to claim the third set 6-3, bringing the Jets one match away from clinching. But the team fell short as Niamh Packer failed to close out a tough three-set match.
Stoianova said the team is used to playing hard matches, but it’s up to the team to stay positive and focus.
“It was a tough loss and I know everyone on our team did their best to stay unbeatable, but the team we played against was really good and just a little bit more experienced,” she said. “All of us had long hard matches, but we’re all ready to get back to practicing this week before our next match against Washburn.”
Augspurger said she had high hopes for the the coming games over the next couple of weeks, but with two players off the roster, she said she’s going to have to make some changes.
“I thought we would have a good match against Washburn. They beat us last year, so I’ll have to pay close attention to the depth of the team now to see if we still have a chance,” she said. “The girls are working hard that are still on the team, so hopefully we can find a way to get the win.”
The Lady Jets stay home for the next couple of weeks with a match against Washburn at noon Saturday.
This story first appeared in the March 1, 2018 issue of The Vantage.