While the opening weekend of tennis didn’t go NSU’s way against LSU and Tulane University, they’ll try to turn that around against the University of Louisiana Lafayette Wednesday with their next match of the season.
“We have to hit the reset button,” new Head Coach Freddy Gomez said. “It gives us time to prepare. Success is a habit, and we have to create those principles and apply them at match time.”
The Demons and the Ragin’ Cajuns aren’t strangers. NSU competed in the ULL Invitational last semester, which NSU managed to win four of the six championships. They also met in NSU’s fourth match-up of the 2017 season, from which NSU walked away with a 4-0 victory.
“We have to get more confidence going into the season,” sophomore Kateryna Avram said. “[The ULL match] is exciting. We played them last semester, so we know about that team.”
Going into the season, however, the recent snow and school closures impeded on practices and only allowed the team to practice four times leading up to the season’s opening weekend against two away opponents, LSU and Tulane.
“There’s been a lot of adversity,” Avram said. “We couldn’t practice much, but it’s our jobs as athletes to overcome adversity.”
On Jan. 20 the Demons marched into Baton Rouge to take on No. 22 ranked LSU, which is the only team in the nation with four out of its five singles players to make it into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top 75 rankings.
The day ended with LSU winning a 7-0 sweep, but not without NSU putting up a fight.
Polina Mutel faced Elyse Lavender, who Gomez said could end up in the top 10 nationally.
“I think [Mutel] can compete at a high level throughout the year,” Gomez said. “She has a competitive spirit.”
The Lady Demons continued their season opening away matches going into New Orleans on Jan. 21 with their match against Tulane (1-0), but Tulane ultimately clinched the win against NSU 4-0.
Polina Ivanova and Kateryna Avram each led their second sets 4-3 after dropping first sets for NSU, but Tulane won two singles matches and earned a point from a forfeit due to injury.
NSU hopes to make a splash this season by hiring Freddy Gomez as head coach of the Lady Demons this season. He has made contributions to other college teams that gone on to significantly impact the success of those organizations.
In his one year as head coach at Louisiana Tech, Gomez led the Lady Techsters to their best-ever conference finish and pulled in a recruiting class that ranked 14th nationally among mid-major programs.
Afterwards, Gomez spent the next five years as the top assistant coach at Virginia Tech. In his tenure he was largely responsible for recruiting classes that were the best in program history, with national top-20 rankings, 14th and 16th. The women’s program reached its best Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, cracking the top 30, while improving from last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference to the second-ranked team in the ITA Atlantic Region.
“Everyone has been great,” Gomez said. “I’ve been lucky to come [to NSU]. I hope to continue to stay at the top of the conference and succeed on a national level.”
The full schedule for the Demons can be viewed online at nsudemons.com