Despite recent slump, Buffs still on the right track
While many CU students on spring break were out sipping margaritas on the beach or dropping cash on the Strip in Las Vegas, the CU women’s tennis team was hard at work trying to add to their already stellar season.
Friday, April 06 @Denver 1 p.m
Saturday, April 14 @Kansas State 10 a.m.
Sunday, April 15 @Kansas 10 a.m.
Saturday, April 21 OKLAHOMA 11 a.m.
Sunday, April 22 NEBRASKA 11 a.m.
Thursday, April 26 – Sun, Apr 29 Big 12 Tennis Championships at Kansas City, Mo.
Saturday, May 19 – Mon, May 28 NCAA Championships at Athens, Ga.
The then-No. 20 Buffs headed down to College Station, Tex., to play No. 24 Texas A&M on March 22 but got swept 7-0, ending their four game winning streak. Two days later, the No. 40 Texas Longhorns beat the Buffs 6-1 in Austin. On March 24, the Buffs lost again on the road to 13th-ranked Fresno State 6-1.
“I always knew going into it was going to be tough. Texas and Texas A&M are always really good,” said head coach Nicole Kenneally. “Those teams just played better than us those days.”
It wasn’t until March 28 that the tennis team won its first game of the road trip, against San Francisco, winning 7-0, improving their record to 11-6 overall and 5-2 in the Big 12. Now ranked No. 28, the Buffs are still having one of their best seasons in history, even with a disappointing start to their current seven-game road trip.
“We have so much (left) to play,” Kenneally said. “You’re not going to be judged on how you do in the middle, it’s how you finish. It’s not like I’m ecstatic right now, though.”
Going into spring break, the Buffs were ranked No. 20, the best ranking they have had since 1981. Monica Milewski was ranked the No. 35 women’s singles player in the nation in the Fila/ITA singles Top-125 rankings and had won Big 12 player of the week for the second time in three weeks.
Camila Belassi, one of three freshmen on the team and playing No. 2 singles, said it wasn’t physical talent that got the team this far.
“Everyone gets along,” Belassi said. “That’s something that has helped the team be where they are right now.”
The team has a healthy diversity of underclassmen and upperclassmen. There are three freshmen, two sophomores, four juniors and one senior. The top three singles players are either freshmen or sophomores.
One of those freshmen, No. 5 singles player Melisa Esposito, has been one of the most consistent players on the team. But given her freshman status, experience at the collegiate level is perhaps one thing she lacks right now.
About 600 fans, according to Kenneally’s estimate, cheered on their Texas A&M Aggies against the Buffs. For Esposito, it was the first time she’d seen anything like it.
“We were trying as hard as we could to not let it affect us,” Esposito said of the noise. “I think it did a little bit. You just never know what’s going to happen every time you step out onto the court.”
Despite the rocky road trip, the Buff’s goals and expectations of their remaining schedule have not changed. The Buffs play five more games, four of which are in conference play. For Kenneally, its do-or-die time for the team.
“It’s going to come down to our team coming out and playing the way they’ve been playing all year,” Kenneally said.
Depending on how they finish, the Buffs will participate in the Big 12 Tennis Championships in Kansas City, Mo., in late April as well as in the NCAA Championship in Athens, Ga., from May 19-28.
The Buffs will try to recapture their earlier success against Denver Thursday at 1 p.m. in Denver.
Contact Campus Press Staff writer Evan Acker at email@example.com.