By Dalton Ray–
It’s been a hard year for the women’s tennis program. After losing Friday Apr. 8 to no. 17 Georgia Tech the team has dropped its tenth conference game and now sits at 7-13 on the year. Injuries have plagued the team all year and in a conference like the ACC you can get buried fast.
With three games remaining in the year head coach Mark Beckham is in risk of having his first ever season of not winning at least ten games. In the first two years of the ACC Beckham has had some of his youngest teams of his career. Over that time the team has went 3-24 in conference. The previous two years before coming to the ACC Beckham’s teams won 28 games and were nationally ranked.
Beckham has proven he can win here at Louisville and knows what it takes to get the job done. Having losing seasons just isn’t something he is used to here at U of L.
“I definitely think these two tough years will pay off for us, I’ve put out good teams here. A few years ago we were close to bringing a national championship here to Louisville,” he said. “I understand the process and if I didn’t know what was truly going on then I’d be worried but I’m aware of what’s going on. I also know it’s going to make us better for the future, we’re going to take these experiences and it’ll give us hunger and fire. The storm is coming, I’m just waiting to unleash it on somebody.”
The team is set to return all members next year. In 2016-2017 the Cardinals will have two seniors, three juniors and two sophomores. All seven will have ACC experience and four will have two years of ACC experience. One of the problems for the team now is facing injuries.
There are currently eight members on the team, one has been out for the whole spring semester and the other has been injured for the most part. That means the remaining six have to play without question. Beckham drew the comparison to the men’s basketball team.
“I’m not about making excuses, it’s just how I am. I feel like these six can definitely go out and win matches but we’ve dropped too many close sets,” he said. “It’s similar if you looked at the men’s basketball team and took away Damion Lee and Chinanu Onuaku, that team would be different. It’s a similar situation here, if we had full health I think we would be able to take some of these wins but it’s (injuries) just apart of the game.”
Beckham also said the team will add two talented newcomers next year and expects them to compete. One will be a transfer while the other will be a freshman.
The mentality on the team is the real question. Can they rebound after taking so many losses over the past two years? That’s a question that will be addressed next year but for now Beckham is taking it a game at a time.
“We have three matches left,” he said. “Syracuse, Miami and Florida State. If we can go out Sunday and get a win against no. 35 Syracuse, we can get into the national rankings despite our losses. And that’s how we’re taking it. We want to go out and show what we can do. Miami is a top ten team, if we can make something happen there we can show we are a legitimate team.”
The last home game of the year will be against the Orange on Sunday Apr. 10. The two remaining will see U of L travel down to Florida to face off against FSU then Miami. The Cardinals are in risk of going winless in conference, the first ever for coach Beckham.
Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal