As the first tournament of the fall season approaches, the Illinois State women’s tennis team looks to start off strong at Ball State University on Friday.
“We have a senior-laden team this year,” head coach Chris Hoover said. “But, the freshmen have made an impact right away and I like what I’m seeing.”
Freshman Sierra Stone and senior Phyllis Tigges are both looking further down the schedule toward the Missouri Valley Conference [MVC] Individuals Tournament in St. Louis.
“I am especially excited about the MVC Individuals tournament,” Tigges said. “I did really well in it last year and I would love to repeat that performance.”
Now in her senior year, Tigges remains focused on making this year the best she can. She hopes to make it to Regionals with the team one last time.
As one of two new members to the team this year, Stone is happy with her transition onto the team.
“The two new girls are a great addition to our team,” Tigges added. “They are helping us out a lot, especially for next year when the five seniors will be gone.”
One legacy that the outgoing seniors have established is having received recognition for Academic Performance Rate by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“It’s just part of the program,” Hoover said. “The kids understand that it’s our culture to do well in everything and it makes it easier when players know what is expected of them, which includes organizing their time and preparing to get work done.”
Studying on the bus, attending the student study center and utilizing teammates are all ways in which Tigges and other athletes stay on top of their schoolwork.
“It’s been awesome,” Stone said. “Everyone on the team is really helpful with answering my questions and everything else I need.”
In the spring, Illinois State will be hosting the MVC Championship. Although the Redbirds will have a home-court advantage, they are still working hard to prepare for all of their events this season.
“Every year other teams get new players, so it’s always a new challenge,” Tigges said.
“We will continue to train hard and work to the best of our abilities,” Hoover said. “Given the opportunity, I think we will be able to execute well under pressure.”
The ISU women’s tennis team will travel to Muncie, Ind., this weekend for the Ball State Fall Invitational.