The Maryville College tennis teams opened up regular season play against Emory & Henry in two vastly distinct fashions.
Last year the men’s team finished with a record of 0-17; however, the team was young and inexperienced.
“Last season we had a team of mostly new tennis players, so it was more about development than performance,” said junior Caleb Underdown.
The MC men’s team went into the match at Emory & Henry searching for a rejuvenated start to this season. Junior Austin Smith and freshman Kyle Shaver lost a close one in their doubles match, scoring 8-6. Junior Josh Fisher and freshman Matthew Jackson fell 8-3 in their doubles match.
In single play, Fisher took his opponent to extra sets but narrowly lost 7-5, 4-6 and 10-3. Smith was defeated 6-0 and 6-1. Underdown was swept in singles play 6-0 and 6-0. As a team, the Scots lost 9-0. Smith and Underdown will be stepping into big leadership roles on the team.
“I’m one of the older players on the team. I try to be friendly and open with everyone, so I can be seen as a role model for teamwork,” Underdown said. “As the season goes on, we plan to consistently develop our individual games and improve our team chemistry.”
The women’s team, coming off of an 8-9 record last season, entered the match against Emory & Henry with high hopes and promise. The Lady Scots beat Emory & Henry by a score of 5-4.
Sophomore Kaleigh Basilio earned a singles victory 6-1 and 6-1. Freshmen Melanie Kowalewski (6-1, 6-4) and Carolyne Koella (6-2, 6-4) both earned their first collegiate singles victories. In doubles play, juniors Kayla Zimmerman and Anya Dunn posted a victory of 8-4. Kowalewski and Basilio also earned a victory in their doubles match of 8-4. Despite the win, the Lady Scots still have a few things to shore up in order to achieve their goal of winning the conference tournament.
“As a team, I think we all need to be working on more consistency and cutting back on unforced errors. This group of girls has a lot of potential and seem to be solid from the top of the lineup to the bottom, so I think we have a chance to compete this year,” said Zimmerman, a 2nd team All-Conference performer from a year ago.
There are no seniors on this year’s team. As a result, Zimmerman and Dunn were thrust into leadership roles earlier than expected.
“We both model a good work ethic and positive attitude on and off the court very well. We both want to succeed, and we both want to keep building on the progress we’ve made over the past two years,” Zimmerman said. “I know that this is going to be a fun year. It’s a blessing and awesome opportunity to be able to play, and I want our team as a whole to view it that way.”
Both teams will be off until homecoming weekend. Maryville will host Johnson University on Oct. 18 at 3:00 p.m. The Scots will then turn around and host Milligan College on Oct. 20 at 1:00 p.m.