The Georgetown men’s and women’s tennis teams will return to action this weekend to face a slate of New York opponents in their first matches since Jan. 16 and 17.
After an encouraging road win against the James Madison Dukes (2-1), the Georgetown women’s tennis team (3-1) will face off against a Big East foe — the St. John’s Red Storm (2-1) — in its first Big East battle of the 2014-2015 season on Feb. 6 in New York.
“In my four years here we have not beaten them,” senior co-captain Sophie Panarese said. “We consider them our rivals just because it gets pretty feisty on the court, no matter what. We are so excited to get out there because we’re on a good winning streak.”
After taking a break from competition since the 4-1 Invitational Match two weekends ago, the Georgetown men’s tennis team (2-2) will also compete with St. John’s (1-2) on Feb. 6 followed by a match the next day against Marist (1-2) in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
“It’s a huge match though, we don’t want to lose to them, and it’s also the first Big East match. We’re going to use this to set the tone for the rest of the season,” redshirt senior Andrew Dottino said, speaking to the men’s team’s history with St. John’s.
Having played several tight matches against James Madison in the past few years, the Georgetown women’s team’s win was encouraging, especially because a freshman, Casey Marx, was responsible for clinching the overall win for the Hoyas, bringing their record up to 3-1.
“Casey clinched it — that’s huge,” Panarese said. “Every single girl on the team is going to experience playing when it’s tied up 3-3 and I think that’s when you need to support your team and see if you can pull it out and I’m so proud of her. She really kept it going and played her heart out.”
As the first Big East match of Georgetown’s 2014-2015 season, the St. John’s contest is an extremely significant one. The Red Storm have beaten the Hoyas in each of the past two years, and Georgetown is looking to turn the tide.
“The girls are feeling that, and they want revenge,” Head Coach Gordie Ernst said. “They’re going to be getting ready for St. John’s big time.”
In the past, losing the doubles point has sealed the Hoyas’ fate against the Red Storm. As doubles play occurs first, winning the doubles point sets the tone for singles play. Panarese strongly believes that the doubles point will be extremely important to this match.
“It’s great that we play doubles first just because we can get out those early jitters and if we get the doubles point that means we only need three singles points and that takes a little bit of the pressure off, and it makes us play our game. It’s going to come down to the doubles point, in my opinion. With St. John’s, it’s always a battle,” Panarese said.
The men’s team will also travel to New York, but with a nonconference record that puts the team at .500 before facing opponents in the Big East.
Even though they have not competed since the 4-1 Invitational on Jan. 16 and 17, the time off from match play has given the Hoyas an opportunity to make adjustments in preparation for conference play.
“For us, the [4-1 Invitational Match] kind of showed us what we need to work on during matches,” Dottino said. “We took these three weeks to heart and kind of tried to work as best we could to prepare for this upcoming weekend.”
This year, the Hoyas team is chock-full of valuable talent ranging from new freshmen to Georgetown veterans. Freshmen Marco Lam and Peter Beatty have each thrived under the new pressures of collegiate tennis and have made significant contributions to both the Hoyas’ singles and doubles play.
After the St. John’s match, the men’s squad will compete with Marist (3-2) the next day. While the Hoyas have little history with the Red Foxes, the two teams faced off in March 2013 with the Hoyas triumphing with a 6-1 rout of the Foxes.
For Dottino, this match is just as significant as any other.
“We can’t take anything lightly, so we want to go out there and do our best and try to beat them,” Dottino said.
The men will take on St. John’s at 10 a.m. on Saturday, while the women will follow shortly thereafter at 11 a.m. The men compete with Marist at 12 p.m. the following day.