Women’s tennis team looks for underclassmen to step up
Webster University’s women’s tennis team set the bar high during their 2010 season by winning the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title. Coach Michael Siener said he anticipates the same success, if not more, this season.
“Our goal from day one is to win the conference title,” Siener said. “I think that is a very real possibility for us this year.”
The women are 3-1 so far this season. Allison Tungate, who was named the SLIAC player of the week for March 21 through the 27, has gone undefeated since losing in the season opener to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, a Division II school.
Tungate is one of several players looking to lead a team that lost its No. 1 and No. 2 singles players from last year’s squad. Alexandra Meyer and Mindy Tabakin, both seniors in 2011, did not return to tennis for their final seasons.
Meyer, who said an increased academic workload was a major part of her decision not to return, still believes the team can succeed despite the loss of their two top-ranked players.
“I have faith in them,” Meyer said. “If they want it bad enough, they have the talent — lots of young talent. They can win it.”
Meyer said she needed a less stressful senior year on campus. Several of her classes conflicted with practices and matches last year.
“I had to choose tennis over everything the last three years, and I finally just had to ask, ‘What’s best for me?’” Meyer said.
Tabakin said “medical and personal issues” were the deciding factors not to return. Meyer and Tabakin both made their decisions only weeks before practice was set to begin, forcing Siener to scramble in re-arranging his lineup.
“It certainly affects the roster, but I think we can make up for the absence (of Meyer and Tabakin) with tenacity, and focusing on developing our doubles and our younger talent,” Siener said.
Siener said the team is focusing on fostering new talent in its younger players. As a team that has only one senior on its roster, the development of underclassmen is a top priority for the program.
Allison Tungate, along with her twin sister, Paige Tungate, entered the 2011 season with a combined record of 52-9 in singles play. Both women played well in doubles competition against Maryville University on March 27, winning their respective matches.
Junior Kate Coen said the women would “for sure” win the conference title this year. Coen said the improved doubles play made Webster more competitive than it had been in recent years.
“We aren’t really weak in one particular area,” Coen said.
Allison Tungate and sophomore Lindsey Hays are undefeated as a pair in doubles play. Combined with the undefeated doubles play of Paige Tungate and Coen, the Gorloks are now a legitimate threat in doubles play.
“You can see the progression in skill,” Siener said. “You have players that were a little lower on the roster last year like Kate (Coen) that are really improving and threatening the regular lineup. It’s very promising.”