Although the start of spring sports at Muhlenberg is still months away, some teams actually start competition at the beginning of the fall semester. Four of these teams are the men and women’s tennis teams and the men and women’s golf teams. Despite having their true seasons in the spring semester, these teams engage in several matches throughout the fall season, including partaking in some tournaments as well. Because of the discrepancies between these two seasons, the teams have typically approached each of the different seasons in a unique manner to one another. Aine Filler ’19, a member of the women’s golf team, placed on emphasis on the team competing on as many tournaments as possible during the fall campaign.
“We always use our fall season as a time to train and work on specific things that we wouldn’t normally have time to work on during the spring. Also, we try to schedule as many tournaments as we can in the fall even though this isn’t our main season because we never know how to Spring weather is going to be and a couple tournaments are usually postponed or cancelled due to inclement weather. We have to play in a certain amount of tournaments for our conference to qualify for the NCAA tournament,” she said.
During the 2016 season, Filler was named the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year and was also a member of the All-Centennial Conference First Team.
When the team is not parking in tournaments, such as at the Swarthmore/Neumann invitational during the beginning of September, in which Kat Hodges ’20 shot a field-leading 82 (+11), they are getting prepped to be in “golf-shape” for the spring season. The team actually has a special tool to practice with that they utilize greatly during the offseason.
“Coach tries to get us playing as much as he possibly can during the Fall, which will keep us in shape for the Spring season. We have a special golf room with a simulator in the LSC, so coach will have us in there during the fall and the winter to keep us swinging and preparing for the main season,” said Filler.
The men’s tennis team has taken similar measures to the women’s golf team, when it comes to preparing for its spring season. Alex Dagllis ’20 said the team uses its fall season as an almost experimental period to figure out the best match configurations for the spring.
“During our fall season, our main goal is to get a lot of match practice and to start figuring out who is going to play where in the line up. Despite not having a playoff to strive for, we did compete in a couple tournaments (one at Conn College and the ITA championships at Mary Washington). We also played a season match against Lafayette.” He added that that accomplishing this goal is best done through working as a cohesive team that has strong chemistry with each other.
Myles Gross ’19, one of the team’s veterans, said the offseason has given the team the opportunity to observe the talent of the newcomers to the team. He also echoed the statements of his teammate in regards to the usefulness of these fall tournaments.
“The team has used this fall season to challenge new members to become comfortable with they’re surroundings. We gained a sophomore transfer and five new freshmen that will greatly contribute to the team. Having the coach find tournaments for us to play in definitely helps us get back into the swing of things after being away from everyone for the summer. We got to play in a few tournaments and even had a big match against Lafayette College,” said Gross.
Although the team has faired successful in these several fall tournaments, there are actually some NCAA rules that stipulate what a spring-sport team can and cannot do during its fall season. Gross further explained that the fall season carries limitations on the number of practices and meetings that are allowed to be scheduled.
“We had to stop playing after ITA’s which was our last tournament in Virginia. We can still speak with our coach but we cannot have any practices or workouts with him. We still practiced as a team and had matches in the fall,” he said.
Overall, the Muhlenberg Tennis team appears to be destined for another successful year. Gross was very optimistic when discussing the goals the team strived for this fall season, what that means for when the team takes to the courts again next semester.
“The main goals that our team was trying to accomplish most during the fall season were to show everyone a little taste to the amazing talent we have. Losing a key senior last year in David Woods hurt us and our coach went out there and recruited to find really talented freshmen that can right away contribute. By showing up to Lafayette College, which is D1 and beating them 2/3 doubles matches shows that we can play against great teams. We don’t want to sit back and reorganize like you see some teams do when they lose seniors. Our goal is to bounce right back and go to the playoffs. During this fall/winter season we want to be in the best shape possible so when spring rolls around we are ready to go. We don’t look like we missed a day of practice. The best feeling in the world is when spring arrives our opponents are going to have a surprise waiting for them when they see Muhlenberg Tennis is their next match,” said Gross.
It is going to be an exciting year for two of Muhlenberg’s most decorated spring sports programs.