BUENA VISTA, Va.—The 2013-14 Southern Virginia University women's tennis team features seven new scholar-athletes and one returning player. This year's team consists solely of underclassman looking to gain valuable experience and continually improve their skills throughout their first Capital Athletic Conference season.
Southern Virginia head coach Deidra Dryden shares her outlook for this year's team:
What did you learn about this team during fall and early spring workouts?
They are very hard workers and a very cohesive group; they work hard for each other and for me. They are not content with where they are and want to keep getting better.
What kind of impact can the newcomers have this season?
For starters, Lauren Morrison, a freshman from California, will have a huge impact. She will be our number one in singles play. She is a really powerful and hard-working player. The other players bring enthusiasm and increased skill level.
We have brand new tennis courts this year and will have home matches for the first time. How will having home matches benefit the team?
Academically, it's going to be a huge plus. It has been a tremendous burden on our past players to travel every single match. Physically, they are going to get better than they would have. I can push them so much harder in practice because we have the space to do it. Finally, no one has seen my girls play for six years, so the thought of having their friends and their professors see them play is pretty exciting.
Kirsten Laurence is your lone returner this spring. What do you expect from her leadership this season?
Kirsten Laurence is a true leader. She is working really hard to improve her own game. She is really the glue for the team and works really hard to make sure that everyone is doing well and that they feel comfortable with how things are going.
What is your outlook for the number one and number two spots?
The way the challenge matches have played out I feel that Lauren will be the number one. After that I have no idea who will be number two, but that is the exciting part. They're all pushing each other to get better.
We will be facing opponents in the Capital Athletic Conference for the first time. What do you expect before and during the conference season?
It's a tremendous tennis conference and we are really young. Even if our skill level matches up player for player with a certain team, every player they have is going to have more collegiate match experience. I'm optimistic, though, that it will be a building year because we play a CAC schedule but we don't go to the tournament and we don't show up in the rankings. It's our trial year. It will be difficult but we will learn from it and my main goal is that we are competitive in every match.