By Marc Weems
With more than half the season gone for Youngstown women’s tennis (6-7), it will be looking to improve on a pretty good start to the year.
“I feel like that we start late in the season,” senior Nehel Sahni said. “I feel that we’ve been really good in the beginning of the semester. We’ve competed with really good teams. We beat good teams like Eastern Michigan [University]. As a team, when we start our semester, we start off super slow.”
Sahni also said that in all her years, this is the best it has ever started.
She is right because last season, it lost its first six matches before Southern Utah University. This season, YSU won four out of its first five matches which including a 7-0 win over Niagara University.
“I feel like so far, the girls have been working very hard,” Sahni said. “They have been competing well. We have a good workload with the team.”
Although YSU’s record is 6-7, it has played many close matches. YSU has lost three matches by just one set.
“It is actually a plus for the team,” Sahni said. “We have three freshmen on the team and they are new to everything. When the situation became that they had to win for us to win, it was kind of hard. They managed to compete and be ready to go. They looked to win as many matches as they could.”
Sahni also said that they would rather lose in a close match than to get blown out 7-0 constantly.
“We are at a point where we have already played some strong competition,” YSU head coach Mickael Sopel said. “We have had some great wins so far. We played some tough matches against some very tough teams. A lot of the teams we played, we have played before and they are hard to play.”
Sopel also said that playing tough competition early on makes the rest of the season much easier to attack.
YSU is a team comprised of just two seniors Sahni and Dominika Lackova. Both girls have been anchors for YSU’s success thus far.
“It is kind of stressful at some points to be a leader,” Sahni said. “They [freshmen] are all new and pampered. They are still very immature but they are very sweet girls that listen really well. It’s all about the team. We will always have our ups and downs but everything is about the team. We all get along really well.”
Sahni said that having many freshmen is nice because she, along with others, can teach and help them develop their game.
YSU gets to start Horizon League play as it hosts the University of Illinois in Chicago on March 24 and then Valparaiso University on March 25.
“We have some young players that just came in,” Sopel said. “They are getting better and better every day. It takes some time to get younger players going. It is going well so far and it is very exciting to start conference play.”
YSU has played much better this year and Sahni thinks there is a reason for that.
“We just help everyone else out,” Sahni said. “We can’t let each other not do anything. The seniors I had as a freshmen were great. I was probably like the freshmen feel now. Everything was so weird at first but now I get it. We can’t worry about ourselves all the time, everything must be about the team. We are all internationals so it is hard sometimes.”
Sahni said that their ability to play and win is because they see each other as a family since they are so far away from their own.
YSU plays UIC on March 24 at 6 p.m. and then play Valpo on March 25 at 6 p.m. as well.