Sophomore Paula Gonzalez competes in a singles match against Villanova senior Lindsey Evans on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, at Lewis Indoor Tennis Center. Despite losses early in the season, the Women's tennis team feels prepared to win its match against Army on Friday, April 12, 2019, at Lewis Indoor Tennis Center. (May Naish/B&W Staff)

Lehigh women’s tennis strives to rally for Patriot League play

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The Lehigh women’s tennis team looks to improve its play heading into its Patriot League matches. The Mountain Hawks secured their first Patriot League win of the season (6-1) win over Colgate on Sunday. 

“This is the most exciting part of the season,” said coach Sarah Hendrix. “Patriot League play is what we practice and prepare for all year.” 

Lehigh fell to the Naval Academy 6-1 on March 23. The Midshipmen (20-6, 3-0 Patriot League) have the second-best record in the Patriot League behind Army.

Lehigh also suffered a loss to Boston University on March 22. The women are not down on themselves. In fact, they’re feeling more motivated than ever, Hendrix said.

“We have a bit of a chip on our shoulders and are eager to get out there and compete,” Hendrix said.

Junior Sibel Can also discussed the team’s eagerness to win.

“We are feeling pretty determined and motivated right now,” Can said. “We have had tough losses the past two weeks and we’re just hungry for a win right now.”

Can said Army (him 15-6, 4-1 Patriot League) and Bucknell will most likely be the team’s toughest opponents. A win against Army on April 12 will afford the Mountain Hawks the momentum they need as they face long time rival Bucknell on April 16.

Sophomore Catie Meighan said the level of physical play of the other teams is not a concern to the Mountain Hawks.

“I think we are equally as strong it really just comes down to who is having a better day or who has put more work in. Because we are pretty equal physically I think we really try to practice having a mental edge over our opponents,” Meighan said.

This mental edge seems to be a defining factor in how Patriot League play will unravel in the coming weeks.

Meighan said the team emphasizes the importance of positivity, and that the players strive to be the loudest team on and off the court.

In addition to strong mental focus, the women practice having confidence in themselves and in each other to get the best results. Can said she has complete confidence in the team’s ability to be successful.

Not only does confidence play a role, but also pressure is also a factor. While pressure to perform well from the outside is present, it is the internal pressure that could be the biggest motivator for each player, according to Meighan. 

“Really the pressure comes from within because we all want to win so badly,” Meighan said.

In terms of practices, the team does not tailor a specific strategy to prepare to compete against each team.

We don’t change our strategies at all,” Can said. “We want to play the same against all the teams, whether they’re the toughest in the conference or not.” 

Hendrix agreed and said the team brings the same focus and intensity to each match.

When it comes to Patriot League matches, anything can happen. It’s impossible to plan how the games will go or what the other team is going to do. The outcomes of these matches will ultimately determine where they stand for the postseason. Right now, Lehigh is ranked eighth in the Patriot League. Beating these next teams will give the Mountain Hawks a boost in their rank going into the Patriot League Tournament- the most important event of the season.

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