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Women’s tennis gains valuable experience on road trip

Shirlene Luk ’15 advanced to the round of 16 in the ITA Midwest Regional Women’s Tennis Championships. Photo by Shadman Asif.

Last weekend, the women’s tennis team participated in two individual tournaments—the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Women’s Tennis Championships and the Gustavus Fall Invite—with positive results.

In the Regionals, Shirlene Luk ’15 advanced to the singles round of 16 before losing three sets to Bridgid McGuire from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her teammates Virginia Purcell ’17 and Hannah Cook ’18 also competed but lost their first-round matches. In the consolation singles competition, Purcell picked up one victory before losing while Cook fell after a hard-fought match that went multiple deuces.   

At the Gustavus Invite, Sydney Banach ’18 advanced to the number five singles finals match while Anushka Joshi ’18 made it to the number three singles semifinals. Shannon Hautzinger ’18 could not advance past the quarterfinals at the number seven level. Although no individual may have won in her respective levels, the team found last weekend’s Minnesota trip to be a successful one.

“We came up with more wins than losses,” said head coach Andy Hamilton ’85. “Every player had an opportunity to play at least two singles matches and two doubles matches. We were able to find some success with several of our individuals, in both singles and doubles.”

Shirlene Luk ’15 advanced to the round of 16 in the ITA Midwest Regional Women’s Tennis Championships. Photo by Shadman Asif.
Shirlene Luk ’15 advanced to the round of 16 in the ITA Midwest Regional Women’s Tennis Championships. Photo by Shadman Asif.

Luk, the number one player on the squad, was not at the height of her game at the Regionals. Having reached quarterfinals twice in her collegiate past, she was not too pleased with the results. But considering a sudden onset of tendonitis during the tournament, her determination to advance to the round of 16 is an incredible feat.

“Movement is really important in tennis,” Luk said. “I didn’t do as well as I did in the previous years. I wasn’t hitting the shots I usually hit, and it’s because I felt like I was slower on the court. I think I was laying off of my leg a little bit more than usual.”

Competing in her last Regionals however, Luk could not hide her disappointment.

“I wish I had went out with a bang,” Luk said. “But I can’t dwell on the past, so I’m looking to the future and focusing on trying to win the Conference title again in three weeks. So I’m trying to make sure my leg stays healthy.”

Although no Pioneers took home winners’ trophies in either of the weekend’s tournaments, the inexperienced underclassmen picked up valuable playing time. According to Hamilton, it was interesting to see his young crew’s potential at the events.

“[This is a] little bit of a less experienced team than we’ve been taking to this event in the past, so I was a little curious, so to speak, to see how [they] would do,” he said.

The underclassmen surely answered any questions Hamilton had about them. Luk also spoke positively of her teammates and has high hopes for them.

“Virginia Purcell and Hannah Cook [are] playing number two this year.” Luk said. “They’re definitely two strong players that I think you’ll be hearing a lot from next year. [They both] have a ton of potential and are going to really help this team in the future.”

With the up-and-coming young players looking to make a statement further into their career, the team will travel to Mount Vernon, Iowa to face Cornell College in a Conference matchup.

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