STEUBENVILLE - The Franciscan University women's tennis team had much to be proud of on their Senior Day on Saturday, even as they fell 9-0 to West Liberty University.
The forecast called for a chance of rain, but held off as doubles took the courts just as 1 p.m. It was immediately apparent that the day's competition would be steep. The next two hours of matchplay would see the Lady Barons go head-to-head with likely the toughest competition they will face during the regular season.
Because the day's match was designated as Senior Day, Head Coach Jeremy Ellis elected to change the lineup.
Freshmen duo Madelyn Conrad and Grace Hammel Woude were shifted to No. 1 doubles, and saw the end of their doubles win streak. The West Liberty opposition has proved one of the few teams successful at slowing down the combination of powerful groundstrokes and aggressive volleys that Conrad and Hammel have displayed during the regular season.
At No. 2 doubles, fellow sophomores Maria Binette and Taranee Karimpour played their first match together as a doubles pair. Though they surrendered an 8-1 loss, it was clear that both enjoyed the experience.
No. 3 doubles was a showcase of the upperclassmen talent on the squad. Seniors Claire Haddad and Erin Coyne were paired together, and despite the loss, coach Ellis said he couldn't be more proud of the two Lady Barons. "Claire and Erin have both been great for this team. They played doubles together today, and that was really great to see."
At the conclusion of doubles play, the West Liberty Hilltoppers held a 3-0 lead. Still, the Lady Barons treated the match as non-conference preparation for the upcoming playoffs, and they displayed an aggressive style of play to open singles.
Hammel, the AMCC Player of the Week, couldn't get her groundstrokes going at No. 3 singles. Her 6-0, 6-0 loss isn't a concern as she and the team prepare to face AMCC competition they plan to take full advantage of.
Haddad took the most games off her opponent out of any Lady Baron on the day, losing 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4 singles. She drew spectators to her court because of the long rallies she sustained with her opponent, and she often frustrated her opposition with her crosscourt backhands.
Vander Woude appeared to be playing a version of herself at No. 5 singles; she exchanged shots frequently with her opponent at the net. Often, Vander Woude's points were punctuated by volley winners, making her match far from a one-sided battle, despite her 6-1, 6-2 loss.
Ultimately, the day was about celebrating the positives: the seniors, the Lady Barons' combined fifteen victorious singles games, and next weekend's conference tournament. The Lady Barons take the court Friday for another tune-up match against Clarion at 3pm before heading to Monroeville, PA for their 3 pm first round AMCC Playoff match against the fourth-seeded Penn State Altoona.