Both Newman tennis teams maintaining winning records

By Mikenna Barcelona, Staff Writer

Newman’s tennis team has been playing since early February, and so far, the men's overall record is 9-7 and the women’s is 10-6.

Head Coach Shella Augspurger said she is feeling good about the progress the team has made and says that players are ready to tackle the final conference matches. 

“Players have worked so hard and now it’s time to finish,” Augspurger said. 

This season, the team has more options and a variety of players, so it can mix up doubles partners and can afford to give injured players more time to recover, Augspurger said. The team also has several upperclassmen, who are offering more input about what the team should work on.

Augspurger said that three seniors on the men’s team have been having standout seasons: Luca Penteado from Brazil, Kurt Bruckner from Bolivia, and Isfan Makhmudov from Uzbekistan. 

“They have been playing at their best, and I’m so proud they are achieving this year,” Augspurger said.

Juniors Andrea Bramati from Italy and Ali Mourni from Egypt have also been making an impact on the men's team, she said.

As for the women's team, a few juniors who have been playing well this season are Ani Zeikidze from Georgia and Dana Issabayeva from Kazakhstan. The two are holding down the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the lineup and are playing some of their best tennis, Augspurger said.

The seniors who are leading the team on the court and by example, she said, are Marie Brunet from France, Antonia Ramos from Chile, and Martine Lolli from Italy. 

Zeikidze said that she is full of excitement and expectation this season. She said she’s also feeling a bit of trepidation, but she is ready to give it her all.

“This season, I’m excited about the opportunity to compete against other schools and demonstrate the hard work and attention we’ve put into our preparation,” she said. “It’s always exciting to get on the court and deal with new challenges with my teammates.” 

Zeikidze said that certain routines help her get into a focused and calm mindset on match days. She warms up properly, stretches and runs through her drills to prepare her body for the game’s intensity. 

“Additionally, I find peace in prayer, which I believe is the most crucial element of my preparation,” she said. “ Finding guidance and strength from a higher force helps me discover inner calm and focus, allowing me to give my all on the court. Prayer, along with physical conditioning and encouraging music, is an essential component of my pre-match routine.”

When the team travels for its matches, members go to the water park, to the movies, to dinner, or to Top Golf. They also participate in events on campus like the pumpkin carving contest or community service projects. Starbucks trips and ice cream stops are also on the Newman tennis team’s regular agenda.

Augspurger said that everyone is improving, and making the conference tournament is something she is looking forward to. But progress and growth are the main goals, and seeing the team members get better on the court and get good grades are wonderful things. 

“(I) love working with this team, and I hope good things come to them,” Augspurger said.

PHOTO: Courtesy photo, Newman Athletics