In any sport, getting ahead early is important, but keeping up the pace and finishing off your opponent is key to ensuring victory.
Closing out was the focal point for the Marquette women’s tennis team last weekend, as it swept two home matches against Chicago State on Saturday (6-0) and Illinois State on Sunday (7-0), and dropped only one point in a third win against Indiana-Purdue (6-1).
The Golden Eagles got off to great starts during doubles play, claiming the crucial doubles point in each match.
In singles play, the Golden Eagles battled as if they all had the same mental plan: dominate the first set and stifle any comeback attempt in the second.
The women were a combined 96-23 in the first set and never entered the second set down. Even with a cushion, the Golden Eagles refused to let their opponents back into the game.
Sunday yielded the only two matches that required a third set all weekend, as freshman Chelsea Utting defeated Illinois State junior Hannah Esker 6-2, 4-6, 10-8, and senior Rachael Hush closed out the match, defeating sophomore Arianne Maack 6-0, 4-6, 10-5.
“This match gave a great example of how I really need to close out,” Hush said. “I really needed to focus and have that mentality that ‘I need to win this match’ and get it together and start making smarter shots.”
Hush’s Sunday victory capped an impressive weekend in which she defeated Chicago State’s Mista Townsell 6-0, 6-0 and teamed with senior Christina Ruiz to win all three doubles matches she took part in.
Coach Jody Bronson felt finishing was the key for her team’s weekend success, and that they maintained a sharp focus after securing the lead.
“We had a lot of players that had some really good first sets and went through it pretty well, but all of a sudden, that other player started coming back at us, and for whatever reason we had to battle back from behind,” Bronson said. “To me, that was a great sign that just because they come back doesn’t mean we’re out.
“We fought it through, and we have to have that same toughness in the conference tournament because teams are going to be coming at us just like that,” she said.
Sophomore Kelly Barry felt the weekend got the Golden Eagles back on track, and said finishing matches in the second set was crucial to victory.
“I think it was a confidence booster after we went through kind of a rough patch with Louisville and a close match with Cincinnati,” Barry said. “These teams are going to try to come back after being down in the first set, and it’s important to focus and remember what you’re trying to do out there.”
Marquette will get back into conference play this Friday at Connecticut and have five more matches to sharpen its stamina and focus heading into the Big East Championship April 28.