After an impressive 15-7 year—the first winning record since 2012—the women’s tennis team was ranked No. 19 in the nation and No. 6 in the West before travelling to Arizona for the PacWest Championships. The Sea Lions had a critical opportunity to make some noise in the conference.
“I think we got pretty lucky with some really good freshmen,” said sophomore Nicole Camaratta. “We had some good camaraderie this year.”
The team opened the tournament in dominate fashion over the No. 11 seed Stanislaus State. They clinched the victory in just six matchups, with the only loss occurring in the doubles competition. The following day, however, they were in for a rude awakening. The No. 3 seed Academy of Art played at the appropriate level of their seeding, clinching the victory in six matchups.
The team would receive a chance to redeem themselves against the No. 6 seed Sonoma State, but they fell short in seven matchups. Finally, on the final day of the tournament, the team faced a familiar rival in the No. 8 seed Concordia. By clinching the victory in seven matchups, the women’s tennis team managed to close out the season with a seventh-place finish.
In all four matchups, the team that won two out of three of its doubles competition matchups went on to win the match.
“We were 2-2 because we beat the teams we were supposed to beat,” said Camaratta. “And then lost to teams who were ranked above us.”
Camaratta’s teammate, freshman Ellie Gamble, felt that the final result was due to more complicated factors.
“I think that we had the potential to do better,” said Gamble. “But it’s just such a long season that we were so fried. It took a lot at that point to get those W’s.”
For a young, eight-member team composed of three freshmen and two sophomores, holding up for a full season can certainly be a daunting task.
“It was quite a change from high school tennis,” said Gamble. “You get a lot more bondage with your teammates, but a lot more is required from you. We would have three matches a week at times and you would have to figure out when to do your homework, eat and sleep.”
Curt Wheeler, who completed his third year as head coach for the PLNU men’s and women’s tennis programs, has experienced both the good and bad over the course of his short tenure so far. Camaratta feels that Wheeler is not only important to the team’s overall success, but also helps team members learn on an individual basis.
“He’s open to having meetings and conversations and getting to know his players,” said Camaratta. “I think we all learned a lot this year. For me, punctuality and being on time has been a lesson learned.”
The season was certainly an exhausting period of adjustment for the newcomers, but Camaratta pointed out their potential and that the team is in a good position to improve over the next few years for that reason.
“I think we have a lot of good, young players who are motivated and excited,” said Camaratta. “I think we have some good incoming freshmen for the following year, as well. I think our team has a lot of potential. We had some close losses and a good upset against UCSD. Next year, as an upperclassman, I want our team to break the top 10, nationally.”