Story first appeared in the Feb. 19, 2015 edition of the Spectator.
Snow boots are a daily must and the actual temperature failed to elude sub-zero digits on Sunday.
However, Edinboro will be playing tennis on Saturday.
The Boro men’s and women’s tennis teams are gearing up for act two of the 2014-15 season, which commences for the men’s team on Saturday and on Feb. 27 for the women’s squad.
Both squads enter the spring portion of the season with 1-1 records. The women’s team saw three of its matches from the fall be canceled due to weather, which are unlikely to be made up, according to head men’s and women’s tennis coach Lee Underwood.
When the Scots take the court in the coming days, they will have a little bit of a new look.
“On the women’s side I brought in a girl from Serbia. Her name is Marija Tmusic,” Underwood said. “I think she is really going to help strengthen us up. We are going to be deeper for women’s tennis than we have ever been since I’ve been here.”
It’s not just the women’s team that will be featuring some new faces.
“I brought in a Brazilian, Vitor Albanese. He is one of my top players here,” Underwood said. “We are going to be a lot stronger overall.”
In addition to Albanese, Daniel Fernandez Galimany will be participating in matches with the men’s team. The freshman from Costa Rica was with the team in the fall, but was not cleared in time to compete in matches.
Underwood said that he hopes the newcomers will blend well with the key returners such as Oranza Carillo and Julia Hellstern for the women’s team as well as Matias Aignasse and Anmol Sandhu for the men.
The third-year coach articulated very similar goals for both teams.
“One is to make the PSAC tournament,” he said. “The girls have not made the tournament…while the men have made it from my second-year on here. For the men, another goal is to not just make the PSAC tournament, but to win the tournament. Finally, the goal is to make the NCAA tournament. The guys’ have a little farther reaching goal as they made the round of 16 last year, so we’d like to win the regional and get out to Surprise, Arizona, in May.”
The men’s team advancing to the round of 16 a year ago gives this year’s squad some experience, but it also might have created an attitude that Underwood is trying to reel in.
“The biggest thing right now is me trying to keep everyone humble,” Underwood admitted. “They’re looking too far ahead, so I’ve tried to step back a little bit. Obviously, our next obstacle is West Liberty, who we are going to play on Feb. 21, and they are very, very good. If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t be betting anything because it’s going to be a 50-50 match.”
Another addition to Boro tennis is Alex Bush, who was hired over the winter break as the new assistant coach. She was a former standout at Cleveland State.
She, along with Underwood, are trying to improve the Scots’ biggest area of weakness, their doubles play.
“We are trying to improve in doubles,” Underwood said. “We felt as though that was our weak suit last year and we are trying to improve on that. We’ve got better skill sets to make that happen, but unfortunately none of our doubles partners will be the same this year as they were last year. So we are going to be getting some new partners and I hope that learning curve is going to be quick.”
The men’s team opens up with West Liberty on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Westwood Racquet Club in Erie. The women kick things off on Feb. 27 by battling Lake Superior State.