Difficult season ends on sour note

Women's tennis coach Jody Bronson often refers to a tennis match as a battle and the same can be said for the team's season this year.

At the start of the season the team had a variety of challenges to get through, senior Annabelle Espinosa said. One main challenge the team faced was injuries.

"We were able to play through injuries without complaining," she said. "That was a plus. We put it behind us and we're able to play better because of it."

The Golden Eagles started the season off with three wins out of their first five matches to Northern Illinois, Illinois-Chicago and Charlotte. However, they then faced 12 consecutive losses before adding another win to their record March 5 over Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Golden Eagles ended the regular season with a record of 6-15.

The team had a tough schedule, which put it up against 11 nationally-ranked teams — which comprised half of its schedule. The team had hoped the tough schedule would help it compete at the conference tournament, said senior Veronica Garcia Briseno.

"We were expecting with our tough schedule to get better," Garcia Briseno said. "But the teams (in conference) weren't easier to beat."

Although the tough schedule did not help to improve the team's final standing, Garcia Briseno said it helped the team gain more experience. Espinosa agreed the tough competition was beneficial to the team.

"We all fight a lot harder now," she said. "We all became really close. In the four years I've been here it is the closest the team has been."

Looking back on the season, Garcia Briseno noted a few things the team still needs to work on.

"We need to work on our confidence and winning," she said. "We need to believe we can do it."

Consistency was also a problem for the Golden Eagles. Bronson pointed to consistency as a problem in matches throughout the season, and stressed it as something the team needed to improve.

Consistency is something the team will need to work on for next season, Espinosa said.

"They need to be more consistent and think things through," she said.

The Golden Eagles' biggest and most emotional match came March 31, when they faced conference rival DePaul. The winning point came down to the last match, which was played out by freshman Francina Bonnelly and DePaul's Petra Rehusova. Bonnelly struggled with leg cramps but played through them. In the end, the match went to DePaul, 4-3. However, Garcia Briseno said the loss proved the team had a good chance in the conference tournament since the match was so close.

A win over DePaul would have potentially given the Golden Eagles a better seed in the Conference USA tournament, where they were seeded No. 6, Espinosa said. The team ended the tournament tied for seventh place with DePaul.

Garcia Briseno was slightly disappointed in how the season ended.

"I was expecting a better performance," she said. "We didn't achieve our goals. We were expecting to make it to at least the semifinals."