PREVIEW: Tennis teams prepare for more postseason success with fall seasons

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PREVIEW: Tennis teams prepare for more postseason success with fall seasons

Senior Fleur Eggink hitting a backhand. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Senior Fleur Eggink hitting a backhand. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Senior Fleur Eggink hitting a backhand. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Senior Fleur Eggink hitting a backhand. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

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WOMEN’S

As Marquette women’s tennis starts its season, the team is already making history.

For the first time in program history, a women’s tennis player has won the consolation draw in the 44th annual Milwaukee Tennis Classic.

After dropping the opening singles match, Natalija Popovic went on to win five consecutive straight-set matches in two days against opponents from Northwestern, University of Arizona, Eastern Illinois University, University of Louisiana-Monroe and Xavier.

With the Hoosier Classic at Indiana University starting Sept. 27, Marquette has had a long offseason to improve its strength and conditioning. 

Head coach Jodi Bronson and assistant director of sports performance Stu Roche prepared a variety of drills for the team to train during the summer with the hopes of strengthening game play 

Stu kept sending (the athletes) workouts to do back home, and when they came back, we could tell that they did that offseason work so they could get ready for the fall,” Bronson said.

The Golden Eagles’ dedication showed in the 2018-’19 season, advancing to the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals. They lost 4-3 to No. 6 Villanova after battling a day of rain and game delays. They finished their season 12-10 overall.  

Senior Fleur Eggink said the team has been preparing well during the last few months for the classic and other upcoming fall events. She said the team is working really hard and focusing on the Hoosier Classic in practice.

“It’s a really exciting tournament, and it’s important that we show up and enjoy playing but to also be there as a team,” Eggink said. “There are a lot of good teams at these tournaments. … Playing these games will give us a lot of experience and help us a lot in the upcoming season.” 

 

MEN’S

After Marquette defeated DePaul for the conference crown in 2018, they fell 4-3 in last season’s BIG EAST Championship to St. John’s. This year the Golden Eagles are looking to take back the BIG EAST trophy.

The team lost its fifth BIG EAST title appearance last season, senior Luke Smrek said this year the team is focusing on one part of the program’s culture in particular. 

“We have a culture in our program that has been built in by the players from previous years which we will always have, but this year specifically, I think we are holding each other accountable and pushing one another in every practice,” Smrek said in an email. “When we step on court, we are not individuals out there — we are a team and come together as one.” 

Having just finished the Milwaukee Tennis Classic, the Golden Eagles had a chance to put their drive, cohesion and accountability to the test before their dual match season starts in January.

In addition to the MTC, the men will attend the Norte Dame Fall Invitational, Purdue Fall Invitational, MSU Invite, ITA Midwest Regional, Drake Invitational, Illinois State Invitational and the Gopher Invitational before their official 2019-’20 season begins this spring.  

Smrek said he believes these events are good preparation not only for regular season matches but for the BIG EAST victory.

“We get to play many matches … against high-level players, which will ultimately benefit us come spring season,” Smrek said in an email. “Our goal is to win the BIG EAST Tournament, and I know every guy is working towards that come spring season.”

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