By Dalton Ray–
When women’s tennis coach Mark Beckham created his 2017 schedule, he wanted to create a steady increase in difficulty heading into conference play. With challenging opponents against Western Kentucky, Georgia State and Marshall prior to ACC play, the Cardinals are right where they need to be at 10-2.
“The win at Marshall was big. It helped us get into the top 50. After that, we were ranked No. 49 and once we beat Pittsburgh we bumped up to No. 45, so we’re moving in the right direction,” Beckham said. “When I put the schedule together, I knew it would put us in the situation we’re in. Putting the schedule together is one thing, you have to go out and take advantage of it. And, for the most part, we have.”
The Cardinals lost to Georgia State and conference foe Notre Dame.
Against Georgia State, Louisville flashed their potential. Jumping up 3-1 against the Panthers, a NCAA tournament team last year, U of L dropped the final three points to lose 4-3.
Louisville answered with wins over Miami (OH) and Marshall. Against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, Louisville fell 5-2. While it seems like a lopsided victory, the Cardinals pushed the No. 27 team in the country.
Tied at 2-2, Notre Dame’s Rachel Chong defeated senior Olivia Boesing 7-6 (7-2), 6-3. Allison Miller clinched in the match by beating junior Mariana Humberg 7-5, 7-5. On the final court, Zoe Spence edged junior Abbie Pahz 6-7 (8-10), 7-5, 1-0 (11-9).
Beckham could tell his team is different through this loss.
“I feel like we are different from teams from years past because I am not sure those teams would have put themselves in the position to win the match like this one did. We didn’t win but we legitimately put ourselves in a position to win four points,” Beckham said.
After the win over Pitt, Louisville beat Southern Illinois for their 10th win.
Louisville has been stellar at is in doubles. The Cardinals have not dropped a doubles point this year, giving them a 1-0 lead nearly every match. Their top duos of Mariana Humberg/Abbie Pahz, Boesing/Sena Suswam and Jessie Paul/Ariana Rodriguez are a combined 21-5.
While the 2017 team is undoubtedly better than the previous two, but Beckham still battles to keep his team in the right mentality.
“This team is different and I have to remind them. There are scars from the previous two seasons, so self-doubt creeps in a little bit,” Beckham said.
Louisville travels to Clemson on March 10 and to fifth-ranked Georiga Tech March 12. Of the remaining 14 matches, 12 are against conference opponents.
“Right now, I feel like we fit somewhere in the middle (of the ACC). We’re still improving and where we are now isn’t where we will be in a month. Some of these other teams, due to their makeup, are who they are. We can get into that next level, we just have some work to do,” Beckham said.
Photo by Terrance Moore / The Louisville Cardinal