Despite the absence of one of its top players, Texas State tennis dominated the St. Edward’s Hilltoppers last weekend at home.
Senior Melissa Hadad sat out the tournament to stay below the NCAA maximum of matches played per year, but the Bobcats saw success without her, winning 6-1.
“I was a little nervous going into the match due to the fact that they were coming off of a win versus Midwestern, who was a ranked opponent,” Head Coach Tory Plunkett said. “And we were going in with a lineup that was different than normal.”
Francesca Bernes, freshman, filled in for Hadad in doubles play.
“Frankie played with [Jessica Kahts], and it worked out really well because they knew and had played each other before,” Plunkett said. “Jessica was able to help out Frankie in that number one spot.”
Plunkett said it was good to know she can pull anyone, rearrange lineups and still remain competitive.
“We have a very deep squad and it is reassuring to know that if we didn’t have someone, if they got sick for instance, we would have someone to fill in very capably,” Plunkett said.
Doubles play, which was an area for improvement last year, now serves as a light of optimism for the Bobcats, who have an 8-1 record for the season.
“I was impressed with doubles overall to be honest,” Plunkett said. “[St. Edward’s] came out pretty tough but we stuck to our game plan and eventually it broke them down. In singles, I was glad we didn’t give away any free points.”
Freshman Rachel Baldree boasts a 9-5 record in singles and Plunkett said she enjoys watching her success.
“I was particularly impressed with Rachel, our other freshman,” she said. “She went out in the number two spot as a freshman against a very solid junior player and she was able to win.”
The team implemented the same strategy used in its fall scrimmage against St. Edward’s. The Bobcats played the conservative role of a baseline retriever, meaning they put the ball in the Hilltoppers’ court with nice, easy returns and waited for them to make a mistake.
“The team saw that reducing the amount of free points was very effective,” Plunkett said. “Even if it’s not pretty, if we get past that stage then you tend to put a lot of pressure on your opponent and be successful.”
The lone loss came in Bernes’ singles match. She was not a part of the team in the fall and was unfamiliar with the strategy.
“Unfortunately, Frankie wasn’t here in the fall and the girl she played was the one who had the most trouble with the baseline retriever,” Plunkett said. “It’s unfortunate they had their player with the most trouble with this baseline retrieving technique against the player with the least experience.”