The only way is up for women’s tennis

Julia Martins de Sa
Junior Makayla McLaurin practices with her teammates on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.//Photo by Julia Martins de Sa/The Guilfordian

One win. 14 losses. Not a record that any team wants to have.

The Guilford College women’s tennis team struggled last season as they won the first match of the season against Greensboro College on Feb. 19, 2017, but then lost all the contests the rest of the season. The team will attempt to stop a 362-day losing streak today, Feb.16, as they face Salem College. Last season was a drastic fall from the 2016 season where they went 6-9 and made it to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Quarterfinals.

This year’s team is made up of a lot of new faces, but no first-years. Only two players return from last year’s team, junior Makayla McLaurin and sophomore Brooklyn Hopkins.

“It’s been a lot of just kind of setting the standards of what it is like to be on a collegiate team, but they all get along really well, which is awesome,” said Assistant Coach Kim Kleimeier ’13. “They have great sportsmanship with each other.”

Last season Hopkins and McLaurin competed in five doubles matches together, winning one match against Salem College.

McLaurin went 3-9 in singles play and 3-10 in doubles play last season. Hopkins picked up one win in eight singles matches and two wins in nine doubles matches.

Not surprisingly, the team was picked in 12th in the ODAC coaches’ preseason poll.

“It’s okay to not win just as long as you don’t get dejected or just give up … You’re not going to win every single game as much as you want to in all four years, unless you’re (University of Connecticut women’s basketball), you’re not going to win every single game,” said McLaurin.

The team will have only seven players this season but that provides some unique challenges and benefits.

“On a small team dynamic, you really have to get to know the people because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with those seven people,” said McLaurin.

With only seven players on the roster, everyone will have to participate in singles and doubles matches.

Head coach Dave McCain and assistant coaches Mark Lapierre and Kleimeier will focus on improving the inexperienced team. Kleimeier graduated from Guilford in 2013 and had 35 career victories during her time on the tennis team.

“I’m with the players every single day and just helping them construct practice, and trying to get them to be as good as they can,” said Kleimeier. “I really enjoy it.”

While the team may struggle in the matches, they still will be attempting to reach their goals.

“I just want the girls to improve as much as they possibly can, I want to help them reach their goals,” said Kleimeier. “That’s really the biggest thing that I am here for.”

With many players on the team as unknowns, there is no telling what could happen in the season. They could turn out to be very good, or just suffer repeat of last year’s miserable season.

Guilford might win an ODAC game for the first time since 2016 and build a team that will compete in the conference.

The first home match of the season is tomorrow, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m. against Washington and Lee University, the top team in the ODAC preseason poll and 12th ranked in Division II. Last year, the Quakers lost to Washington and Le, 9-0.