Tennis rounds out fall season

The tennis team closed out its fall season after a matchup against Quincy University Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Head coach Steve Smith said the team had a good meet against Quincy, with single matches being particularly exceptional. Smith said Morgan Eby, Caprice Huitron and Rachel Shelley all had solid matches against the Hawks, which allowed Huitron to win her first single of the year. 

Smith said despite the pressure, Huitron moved well, anticipated well and hit the ball well to earn the win.

“She was actually smiling during the [match] — they had to play a super tiebreaker for the set and she was feeling good, she was in the zone and I like to see her play well and enjoy it,” Smith said. 

Before competing against the Hawks, the Bulldogs travelled to the University of Missouri-St. Louis to compete in the University of Missouri-St. Louis Tournament on Oct. 4-5. 

Smith said the tournament was rough, mainly because the Great Lakes Valley Conference has some tough tennis competition. He said with a younger team he expected the tournament to be a tough one to tackle.

“In general the better people you play, the better you play yourself, win or lose,” Smith said. “It helps you get better, it helps you improve your game, but with a young team you have to be a little bit careful about playing a bunch of tough matches and getting down on yourself.”

He said the team has remained positive this season despite any losses. It was important for the team to secure some wins early on in the season, Smith explained, because it encouraged and motivated the team for future play.

Smith said the season’s lineup was appropriate and he liked the way doubles were paired up. He said there can be some pressure and jealousy on tennis teams for players to get a good spot, but that wasn’t the case this season.

“We don’t have any problems that way,” Smith said. “We all want to see each other succeed and we want to help each other become better — and I want to help them become better.”

To help with that for the spring season, Truman State University has hired Jonathan Gooch as an assistant coach for the tennis team. Smith said Gooch will help with technique and strategy, and generally act as another pair of eyes on the court.

“I am looking forward to being a part of a team and a staff that will maximize the potential in our athletes, and with the results our program has already achieved this fall, I can’t wait to build on that momentum and have that contribute to future seasons,” Gooch wrote in an email statement to The Index. 

Smith said the team will work on improving ground strokes, hitting the ball with pace, consistency and getting the ball deep in the court. He said some players will be looking to change their serves while others might be working on movement or balance.

“One of the things that’s fun about tennis is you can try going to get a little bit better every day,” Smith said.