The tennis season came to a tough close for La Verne as it finished with a 2-8 record in conference and 7-14 overall.
The team had its closest match against Occidental on April 22, losing 5-4, but in the end was not able to find the momentum to seal the win.
The Leopards’ biggest challenge was inexperience, with six freshmen and no seniors, the level of play from high school to college tennis took its toll.
“Our lack of experience with such a young team was a big issue for us,” freshman Carly Tucker said. “Not knowing what we were coming into left us timid.”
The Leopards might not have found momentum on the court, but they did find compatibility off the court that they hope will transfer to future seasons.
“Our strength was our personality, our willingness to try hard, our closeness, our compatibility,” Tucker said.
“The season overall went really well, even though the results didn’t all go in our favor, I thought we played really good tennis and we all got to know each other really well and bond,” freshman Valerie Lezin said.
Head coach Yolanda Duron has a vast experience at the collegiate level not only playing at a Division I school, but also coaching at all divisions.
“She knew how to keep us focused; she’s really good at showing what to work on at practice and good at showing us how to execute what we need to be doing,” Tucker said.
The Leopards had high hopes to finish fourth or fifth in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, but sometimes hope is not enough.
“We fell a little short,” Lezin said. “I think because we are such a young team we were all still adapting to the new changes and the different conditions and level of competitiveness from high school to college tennis.”
La Verne finished seventh in SCIAC with its two wins against Caltech.
One of the wins was in the last conference game before the SCIAC tournament, where La Verne swept the doubles matches and won four of six singles matches.
“The win definitely helped us, it got us feeling good and able to stay focused to play our game against Caltech with a boost of confidence,” Tucker said.
After two losses in the SCIAC tournament, the Leopards ended on a high note with their second win against Caltech.
“From the very beginning our tennis team has been a close unit, therefore we are motivated by our love for each other; we never want to let each other down,” junior Arielle Monteilh said. “We strive to play as hard as we can for ourselves. We love the challenge.”
La Verne is preparing to come back stronger and more focused with a newfound confidence.
“We know what the expectations of our coach and of each other are now, so we can work toward living up to them,” Monteilh said. “We are stronger independently, as a unit, mentally, and physically so I feel we have an edge with this year of experience under our belt.”
The Leopards will continue playing together in the offseason and some will play in Intercollegiate Tennis Association tournaments to compete with other college players.
“We have tremendous raw talent on our team, and once we hone in on our strengths we will be unstoppable,” Monteilh said. “Our major strength is knowing when to focus and be serious.”
Krista Franceschini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.