Team chemistry is key for tennis team
Kean’s womens tennis team.
By Jamie Alicea III
Kean’s women’s tennis team is focusing this off-season on attacking the ball and developing the team’s new-found chemistry. The tennis team is coming off a successful season that saw the squad go 8-5, which is the program’s best mark since 2010.
The team is run by relatively new coach Jodi Valenti, who continues to instill a team first atmosphere, in her 3rd year as head coach. One player that has benefited from this team first mentality is sophomore Michelle Luis.
“One year ago today I got a call from my coach asking me to join the team,” said Luis. “These girls have made such an impact on my life. Not only are they my teammates, but they are my best friends, my sisters. The love we have for tennis brought us together, but the love we have for each other made us a family.”
For the team to get to that next level they must protect the court at home, where they only managed a 4-3 record. The team managed to improve individually, as players like Luis, Alyssa Peterson, Richonda Figgins, and Jyssel Lebon all finished above .500 for the singles side.
The team could possibly be playing with as many as 10 sophomores heading into next season, but that only motivates senior captain Christy Verdi.
“I believe us being successful last season, not just score wise, but team wise, was no accident,” said Verdi. “It had to do with us finishing out our games strong, and while we previously didn’t have as many arms, now we do and now we’re a family.”
For many of these players, tennis has given them a chance to be themselves, to leave their emotions out on the field.
“Tennis is the only sport that makes me feel like myself,” said sophomore Richonda Figgins. “It makes me happy for myself, and allows you to feel like your not only playing against yourself but for yourself and your teammates.”
The sport is a big aspect in many of the players’ lives.
“Tennis plays a big role in my life and because you invest in a college sport you have to just keep practicing, be committed, and dedicate yourself,” said sophomore Alyssa Peterson.
The team looks to continue where they left off, as the team closed out last season with a 3 game winning streak. Their motivation is to defeat #1 ranked division rival TCNJ.
“We really look forward to facing them, they’re a tough team and if you can somehow manage a win off of them you’re like a God.” said Verdi.