Tennis: The Huskies have three chances to stop their drought

The UConn women’s tennis team competes against the visiting Quinnipiac University at the Magic Lincer Tennis Club in Manchester, Conn. on Mar. 1, 2023. The Huskies kept their home win streak, edging out the Bobcats 5-2. Photo by Skyler Kim.

The UConn women’s tennis team has been on a skid as of late, losing their last four meets in routs. However, they’ll have three chances to finally get back in the W column, as they have a few opponents on docket that will make for closer competition than their last couple while holding home court. First they will face Sacred Heart on Wednesday at 1 p.m., then they’ll take on two Big East foes in back-to-back weekend meets in Villanova on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and Georgetown on Sunday at 11 a.m. This stretch is their opportunity to reverse their momentum. 

First on the slate are the Sacred Heart Pioneers, who hold an 11-4 record overall and a perfect 3-0 against Northeast Conference opponents. They’ve had a good year on paper, taking down the likes of Binghamton, Merrimack and Stonehill in dominant 7-0 fashion over the course of the season. The Pioneers are also coming into Wednesday on an upswing, as they’ve won four of their last five games, including a nail biter against Rhode Island in their most recent meet. Their doubles squads shined, as 1-doubles team Kim Fenton and Vitalina Golod crushed their opposition 6-1, and the school easily won that point. Singles, however, was where it became close. Though 1-singles Katsiaryna Starastsenka managed to take her win relatively easily after getting caught off-balance in the first set, the rest of the team really had to fight. Thanks to 4-singles Aina Garriga and 5-singles Ciara O’Toole, Sacred Heart managed to walk away from the day with the win. If they fight with that kind of intensity against the Huskies, UConn will be in for an uphill battle. 

Next up will be the Villanova Wildcats, who are struggling on the season with a 3-10 overall record and no games against Big East opponents. They’ve had a difficult time finding their rhythm as a team, and it has shown throughout the season. They’ve lost three out of their last four, but their last meet against Army showed some promise. Though they still lost, they managed to take a set, which is not something a lot of teams (Connecticut included) can say. Thanks to 5-singles Bella Steffen, the Wildcats did not get swept, as she managed to take her match 3-6, 6-4, and 6-3. 6-singles Caitlin Fisher also put up a great fight despite losing in straight sets 6-4 and 7-5. Even though losing is demoralizing, Villanova would not go down without a fight, making the day much more competitive than it could have been for the powerhouse Army. Though the Huskies should be able to handle the Wildcats, watch for Villanova to make some noise anyway. 

Finally, the Huskies will take on the Georgetown Hoyas, who look to be an evenly-matched adversary for Connecticut, as they have a 9-6 overall record and are 2-3 in the Big East. They’ve had a pretty even month of play, going 4-2, but they lost their most recent match to a very strong St. John’s team, 3-4. Their 1-doubles team took care of business, as Chloe Bendetti and McHaley Ho easily defeated their opponent 6-2, but the rest of the doubles squads couldn’t match their production, and the Hoyas lost the doubles point. From there, the singles matches were fought tooth and nail, as 4-singles Ashley Kennedy, 5-singles Paige Gilbert, and 6-singles Morgan Coburn took wins, but it just barely wasn’t enough to outdo the Red Storm. With them being the third opponent of the week, it will be interesting to see how UConn fares against a team of similar caliber to them. 

Even though these opponents are strong, the Huskies just have to prove that they are stronger. It will be a valuable assessment for how they deal with the deck being stacked against them, and how they can dig themselves out of a hole in the season and keep pushing forward as they inch closer and closer to the finish line that is the Big East Tournament. 

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