After dropping their spring season opener to Virginia Commonwealth on Monday, the Georgetown women’s tennis team has spent the week preparing for Saturday’s match with another Virginia team, James Madison.
While the defeat was a disappointing way to open the season, Head Coach Gordie Ernst’s hopes are still buoyed by his players, especially senior Lauren Greco.
At No. 1 singles, Greco registered the Hoyas’ only win in the match against VCU, with a score of 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“Greco beat the No. 1 player in our region. She wasn’t ready to beat a player like that but she really smoked her,” Ernst said. “It is all about confidence. She was down 6-1 and turned it around to win.”
Ernst is assisted by a recent graduate of the women’s tennis program, Stephanie Wetmore (GRD ’11), who has returned to the Hilltop to serve as assistant coach.
“Stephanie left big shoes to fill,” Ernst said.
But Wetmore has high hopes for this season’s players and what they can accomplish in the coming weeks.
“[Greco] is really strong at No. 1 and hopefully that can continue this weekend,” Wetmore said.
The two teams have met in the past, with JMU crushing Georgetown, 6-0, two years ago and theHoyas defeating the Rams by a score of 4-3 last year.
Led by senior Kinsey Pate, JMU has not played since their final match of the fall season. Because of that the Rams’ spring season opener against the Hoyas on Saturday will be a crucial indicator of the season to come.
“JMU is probably saying, ‘We crushed them two years ago.’ But this year it is about revenge for them. They did not expect what happened last year,” Ernst said.
The Blue and Gray, however, are confident that they will not be on the receiving end of the blowout they were handed two years ago.
“We are an entirely different program and we take pride in it,” Ernst said. “The girls walk on the court and expect to win. Before, they were just happy to get to play.”
The difference in the team can be at least partially attributed to this year’s new group of talent. Georgetown has recently acquired transfer sophomore Kelly Comolli from Cornell. Comolli played No. 4 singles and No. 1 doubles for the Big Red.
“Kelly adds a different dynamic to the team with her doubles and her athleticism,” Ernst said.
The Hoyas can also expect big things from freshman Sophie Panarese, who was ranked 45th in the country coming out of high school, and has Ernst excited for the season.
“Sophie is the recruit you want to get every year,” Ernst said. “She is low-maintenance and all the girls love her. Sophie is really a gamer and fights hard in every match.”
Despite her accolades, the promising freshman will likely appear in Ernst’s No. 5 or No. 6 singles spot. But this is less a reflection on Panarese than an indication of the caliber of her teammates.
“Having a player like Sophie in a lower seed shows how deep we are,” Ernst said.
The Hoyas will need all of their players to come out strong on Saturday against JMU. Ernst is confident his team will do just that, based on their recent performance.
“This is Division I and they are really thinking like D-I athletes,” Ernst said.
This Saturday’s match against JMU will take place at noon in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.