Women's Tennis Prepped For 2010-2011 Campaign

Emma Rudnik

By Meredith Cook
Special to GoHolyCross.com

Coming into her second season as the head coach of the Holy Cross women's tennis team in 2010-2011, Lisa Meola looks to rebuild a team that lost four starting seniors and will have four other players missing competition due to other academic commitments. Meola will face the challenge of leading a team that returns three starters from last year's squad and couldn't be more excited. "It's definitely going to be a building season," said Meola. "It's very exciting to see how the kids returning will step it up and they couldn't be more excited about the opportunity. It will be a season of adjusting to being starters and leaders on the team."

Taking over the leadership role will be juniors Emily Marr (Jefferson, Mass.) and Emma Rudnik (Lake Bluff, Ill.) and sophomore Jessica DeSimone (Lincoln, R.I.).  Marr played most of last season at No. 3 singles, combining for a record of 9-8 in all singles competitions throughout the year. Rudnik, who did not compete in singles competition last season, competed in 21 doubles competitions, mostly in the No. 3 spot. DeSimone did not see any action but will look to make an immediate impact filling a starting role. "All of these girls will be moving up the ladder," continued Meola. Some of them spent time on the sidelines last season and I look forward to seeing their improvements and how hard they push themselves to earn spots this season."

Also returning this fall is junior Jen Daffron (Ramsey, N.J.), who played in five matches last season at No. 5 and No. 6 singles. The rest of the team will consist of newcomers, who Meola has yet to try out, but is looking forward to what they can offer her squad.

The fall season, which opens on Sept. 11 at the Salve Regina Doubles tournament, will serve as a showcase for what the team is capable of. "The fall is not that long of a season," said Meola. "It's mainly a few matches and a few tournaments. It will be a good way for the kids to get comfortable and prepare us for the spring, which will be our big challenge."

The fall slate will also provide the team with new competition, including the Eastern Championship (Sept. 24-26) and a match with Bowdoin on Oct. 3. "We've never played in the Eastern Championship before and it's a longer tournament, so I am very curious to see how we do. It is exciting to have anything new on our schedule," says Meola.  Some familiar faces complete the fall lineup, as the Crusaders will also take on Providence (Sept. 16), Siena (Sept. 18) and Hartford (Oct. 6).

Meola is also expecting good things out of the spring as well. "I think we played really well last year, especially against our Patriot League opponents," she said. "For point by point we were always very competitive and I think we are and will be at the spot where we all just have to believe that we can top these teams. It's exciting to see the girls confident and at the point where they know they can win."

As for expectations in her second year as head coach, Meola is ready to set the bar high for her squad. "This season is about me stepping up and pushing my kids harder. I want to have them show me how they can improve and compete."

With the emphasis on personal improvement and building a successful team, the 2010 Crusaders will surely work together to be the best team they can be.