By Christopher Thompson
Published: October 11th, 2017
Having finished the 2016 season with a 4-13 record, the Brooklyn College women’s tennis team made far too many errors last year. After last Wednesday’s 5-4 victory over the College of Staten Island (CSI), the Bulldogs are competing with an overall record of 5-3 (3-2 in conference).
Second-year coach David Wallis credits the success to extra time during the offseason for practice and creating a strong team synergy for the Bulldogs’ success this year. Coach Wallis depends on the mental strength and toughness of his players.
“Know your strengths, don’t waste shots, and know when to be offensive and defensive,” Wallis said as he laid out his keys to success on the court.
He also credits the victories to new players, like sophomore Georgeen Belrose and freshman Rosa Aksanov, and to the return of top player Ievgeniia Kostenko, who missed all of the 2016 season.
Before last Wednesday’s match, Coach Wallis discussed what motivates him as a coach.
“Players,” he said. “And a team that want to continue to grow and get better.”
Getting off to a hot start with a 3-1 lead during their doubles match, Kostenko and Aksanov quickly found themselves trailing 4-3 to CSI. Aksanov, showing great hustle, made a gritty dig, scooping the ball out of the corner and tying the match at 4-4. After losing the next set, putting the duo down 5-4, Ievgeniia helped rally her team back with a beautiful touch drop shot along with two powerful slams that tiptoed along the baseline to regain the lead. Never looking back, they won the match 8-5.
“We were overconfident and too relaxed,” Aksanov admitted after the match. “We quickly realized that we can’t be this relaxed, and we needed to secure a win for the team. After that we started to be more aggressive and started attacking all the balls.”
Kostenko and Aksanov both enjoyed victories during their singles matchups as well. Belrose also notched a victory when she easily handled her opponent, winning 6-1, 6-3 in straight sets.
With the team match tied overall at 4-4, senior Julia Mekler won her first set (6-3). After dropping the next set (3-6), the pressure was on. Mekler finished the match the way she started, claiming a (6-3) win. This gave the Bulldogs the tiebreaker they needed for the 5-4 victory over the Dolphins.
“I believe our team became better and smarter towards the end of the season,” Kostenko, the junior captain, said. “We can see that there’s a great possibility for a victory; our team is more hungry for it. I think all of the girls showed great improvement throughout the season, and I hope that our game will only get better.”
In a road trip on Oct. 6, the Bulldogs traveled to Jamaica to take on York College. Brooklyn pummeled the Cardinals, winning the match 9-0. The victory pushed the Bulldogs’ City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) record to 3-2.
The Bulldogs have four more matches on the schedule, with the last coming at home on Oct. 16 against St. Joseph’s College (SJC) of Brooklyn before postseason play begins on Oct. 22. The Bulldogs need to welcome SJC to Flatbush with a thud in order to stir momentum for a playoff push and to complete the season undefeated at home, continuing their program’s much needed success.