Women’s tennis ready to take on championships

The women’s tennis team is ready to go next month’s Southern States Athletic Conference Championships, and a high note on two years of their first normal season, according to Head Tennis Coach Matthew Llewellyn.
The season has already started with high expectations according to Llewellyn. The team is currently ranked 17th in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics women’s tennis, with a 7-10 record and 194 final points from the NAIA Coach’s Poll, according to the NAIA.
The team is the fourth overall and rated third overall pick, according to Llewellyn. He said that the team has the top 25 rankings below. Llewellyn said he has full faith that his players will come out fast and confident and take the trophy home.
“If we play the way we are capable and come together as a team we have a chance to win,” Llewellyn said.
The tournament is a clench, meaning the first team with four points wins the match.
“Anything can happen in that format,” he said.
They have the number 12 spot in 2018 and have been having a good portion of the number 12 spot this season, according to Llewellyn. He said the COVID-19 pandemic took much of their 2020 and 2021 seasons, including conference tournaments and nationals.
Llewellyn said the team is benefiting from this season’s training and regular matches in normalcy and consistency. They are making up for lost time and using their last two premature season cutoffs as motivation, he said.
Sophomore tennis player Isabella Leano said the team has been great at handling everything that has come their way.
“We can compartmentalize and put everything else in place. This is the order of the court to devote their utter attention and energy to their match,” Leano said. “This capability gives our team an edge over most teams in our conference.”
Going through the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurricane Ida, and various other groups that have taken the last two years to a new culture of resilience, Leano said.
Llewellyn said the team is using their overcoming adversities and their upset against Xavier in February as proof they can win championships. It was the first time Loyola won against Xavier, who was ranked third for several years, according to Llewellyn.
Captain Madelynn Chavez, a senior political science major, said the team is more than capable of holding the top schools in the championships.
“Our hope for the SSAC Championships is to rank ourselves in the top 10,” Chavez said.
If the team is focused and healthy with positive mindsets they will have the trophy, Chavez said.
Leano said they also “really belong” in the top 10 because of how much they have overstated their own expectations for the season.
“This sense of unity of court has inspired a connection that none of us have ever experienced. I can confidently and proudly call each of my teammates my sisters, ”Leano said.

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