Women’s Tennis Preview: Upperclassmen Will Be Key

Unlike their male counterparts, the Marquette women’s tennis team is an upperclass-oriented team. Five upperclassmen make up the complexion of this spring’s squad, which opens its season this Sunday against Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Six players return from last year’s 13-14 squad that earned the No. 5 seed in the Big East Championship.

The team is led by seniors Rachael Hush and Christina Ruiz, who provide a great example to their teammates of what hard work in a competitive conference can do. Hush and Ruiz had a team-best 24-6 record in 2009-2010.

“The two had a lot of success in doubles,” coach Jody Bronson said. “They have been leaders before and do a great job in all aspects.”

Junior Gillian Hush, Rachael’s sister, said what makes Ruiz and Rachael a strong doubles tandem is their great chemistry both on and off the court and ability to feed off each other during matches.

The two hope to improve on their previous season by concentrating on the small aspects of their game and taking one match at a time, Rachael said.

Gillian is a talented player in her own right. She finished her 2009-‘10 season with an impressive record of 27-12 in singles matchups, which was best on the team.

She plans on looking at what she did well last season and focusing on each individual match to help create more success this spring.

Gillian said the overall team goal “is focusing on maintaining the team aspect.” Through supporting one another and being a “family” success will follow, she added.

Within the last couple of weeks, coaches have set up “mock matches” to help players prepare for upcoming games, which should make everyone better since the team has a competitive group of returning players that constantly push each other, Gillian said.

Bronson said the spring will force Marquette to compete against the entire roster of a ranked team which will have many talented players. In the fall the women only had to, potentially, play one player from a ranked team and then move on to whomever came up next in the tournament draw.

With that in mind, Rachael said the team cannot afford any letdowns in mental preparation for matches.

“We have to go into each match thinking that everyone is going to be competition,” she said.

This year’s schedule includes a handful of ranked teams. Conference rival Notre Dame is currently ranked No. 4 nationally, which will present a new level of opposition between the two schools.

“Our number one goal is to be in that conference championship game at Notre Dame this year,” Bronson said.

Before the women get too far ahead of themselves, they must concentrate on this weekend’s competition.

According to Bronson, Illinois-Chicago has improved since the last time the two teams met on Jan. 22, 2010, and she expects them to provide a challenge that will test her team’s capabilities.

There is no room for this team to underestimate the competition this spring. Being prepared for matches will be the key to success.