A month ago after starting the season 1-5, the chance at a winning record was seemingly out of reach for the Georgetown women’s tennis team (7-7, 1-2 Big East). Now, after a six-match win streak, only one match stands in the way of the Hoyas being over .500 for the first time this season. The James Madison University Dukes (7-3) will attempt to prevent Georgetown from notching that eighth win in a Friday match set to be a nail-biter.
“They’re always a good team, competitive girls. It’s always a good match. That’s why I’m really looking forward to it,” Head Coach Gordie Ernst said.
The two teams have a deep history, playing one another at least once per year for the past nine years. In those nine matches, James Madison holds the slight 5-4 advantage over Georgetown. Georgetown, however, has defeated James Madison in two of their last three meetings, but most recently suffered a 5-2 loss to the Dukes.
“We didn’t play well, but they showed up and they came and competed. They made a lot of balls, they were very steady, but I like our chances this year, I really do,” Ernst said.
James Madison is 6-1 in its last seven matches, including commanding wins and close contests. It defeated George Mason 5-0 and Washington and Lee 8-1, and it edged out Connecticut and Cincinnati in tight 4-3 competitions. The Dukes’ sole loss of those seven came at the hands of William and Mary. Earlier in February, James Madison beat Navy — a team that defeated Georgetown in January.
Georgetown’s win streak has been helped by strong performances in both singles and doubles play. Though the Hoyas failed to pick up the doubles point in their recent match against the Richmond Spiders, singles play came through as they won four individual matches and the overall match. Even more impressive, the Blue and Gray swept Providence 7-0.
“Our strengths right now are that we’re match tough. All the girls right now, if they drop a set … it doesn’t rattle them. We have that kind of toughness right now. We’re also getting some good depth,” Ernst said.
Though the Hoyas’ mental toughness has lifted them above their opponents until now, Ernst believes that a stronger doubles team will be key in future matches.
“Doubles still has to get better, and our serving could be a little better — just the little things,” Ernst said. “But I’m happy with where we’re at right now.”
The Hoyas will play on the Dukes’ home courts Friday, which provides for a tougher match setting. However, Georgetown’s experience will help them overcome any difficulties put forth by the opponent’s home location.
“We’re used to it. We’re veterans. We have kids who have played all over the country, and it doesn’t bother them that much,” Ernst said.