The Augustana women’s tennis team clinched their ninth consecutive regular season NSIC conference win this past weekend with a 9-0 decision over St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth. With their 99th consecutive conference match victory, the Vikings have secured the No. 1 seed in the NSIC conference tournament set for April 21.
In Friday’s games, senior Kaitlyn Schultz and sophomore Taylor Jackson swept their opponents at No. 2 doubles with a 8-1 victory, and again on Saturday with an 8-2 victory. Senior Berkley Darr and junior Kornelia Staniszewska defeated their UMD opponents 8-0 in No. 1 doubles.
Staniszewska, ranked 10th nationally at No. 1 singles, ended her regular season with a 6-1, 6-0 win. Jackson earned a 6-2, 6-0 victory at No. 2 singles on Saturday and received her first NSIC Athlete of the Week honor.
“We worked hard and took care of business,” said Schultz. “Earning the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament was important because we can play the better teams later on in the tournament instead of facing them right away.”
The Vikings earned their No. 1 seeding with an impressive 18-3 regular season record and 11-0 conference record. Head coach Marc Kurtz attributes the team’s success over the course of the season to having good players in every position.
“We have a very strong team and a very deep team, where all the girls on our roster are solid players,” said Kurtz. “We don’t have any weak spots on the lineup, so it makes for a nice, solid team when you have that much depth.”
With the conference tournament a mere two weeks away, the team is focusing on staying tough both mentally and physically, incorporating physical conditioning into practice, as well as working on doubles and singles strategy for each individual player.
“I think we need to stay mentally focused and stay positive—that’s a really big part of it,” said Jackson. “Sometimes being willing to stay out there forever if you have to is really draining—and it’s not always fun. That’s kind of what it boils down to for a regional match—who are you going to outlast, who is going to be the one that’s mentally strong, who is going to have the team behind them the most—it starts there.”
Winning the conference tournament, which includes eight teams in total, will allow the Vikings to advance to the NCAA Central Regional tournament set for April 28, a goal the team has been building up to all season.
“I would love to see us win the conference tournament and go on to do well at the regional tournament,” said Schultz. “Winning that and moving onto the national tournament in Arizona would be such a great way to end my tennis career, but I’m super proud of all the team has accomplished this season no matter what.”
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