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The Radford University Women’s Tennis team came into this season with much room for improvement after a disappointing 6-15 record in 2011.
Three of the six members from that team are no longer on the roster, due to graduation.
As a result, the Highs currently have four freshmen on their roster in Hannah Crawford, Meg Napolitano, Taylor Newman, and Gemma Valls. The rest of the team is composed of seniors, with no sophomores or juniors on the 2012 squad.
The team has a unique blend of youth and leadership, which makes them the women’s tennis squad to keep an eye on this season in the Big South. It’s exceedingly rare to see a team with only freshmen and seniors.
Senior captain and No. 1 singles player Petra Dajevic said, “I expect that we will beat teams that we lost to that we shouldn’t have [last season], and also to surprise some teams in the conference as well.”
After the first three games this season, the Highs sat at 1-2.
“This is just a start and the two matches we lost were extremely close (2-5 against Elon and 3-4 against ETSU). We’re playing and practicing well so I’m not panicked at all. We just need to keep it up and get some wins,” said Dajevic when asked if the team was in a state of panic with a then 1-2 record.
Dajevic continued on, saying, “We have good doubles teams, we just need to work on them more. Meg Napolitano and Hannah Crawford are a really really good doubles team and I think that the team can play really good doubles if we just pick it up a little.”
On Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, RU was faced with a crucial match: win against University of Maryland, Baltimore County and have a solid 2-2 record or lose and fall to 1-3 without even playing a conference match yet. They stepped up to the challenge and snuck by University of Maryland, Baltimore County by a score of 4-3.
Napolitano and Crawford looked like seasoned veterans when they fought to defeat a doubles team made up of a graduate student and a sophomore 9-8 (5) in a match that required a tiebreaker.
The Highs now rest at 2-2, with their next matchup scheduled to come against Washington and Lee University on Feb. 15.
After the match against the Generals of Washington and Lee, RU will travel to Blacksburg to take on Appalachian State University in a neutral site match.
After the App State match, RU will kick off Big South play with a battle against Presbyterian College on Feb. 25.
When it comes to team weaknesses, the Highs seem to have a shortage. Although there is obviously much work to be done and many open ends to be fixed, the team is what they should be: a team. They transform an individual sport into a team sport with their great on and off-the-court relationships.
When asked about their weaknesses, Dajevic said, “Not believing enough in ourselves since we don’t have any amazing results right now or last season.”
However, Dajevic couldn’t help but to turn to a positive tone, adding, “but that’s definitely changing and we’re working on it, staying positive, and fighting. So, we’ll get there.”
The Highs will play their next match on Feb. 15 when they travel to Lexington, Va. to take on the Generals of Washington and Lee University, with the first match set to begin at 4 p.m.