By Tamas Bodrog
The Bridgewater State University women’s tennis team has just started their season and has a 3-0 record. The team is transitioning, with a new head coach and a new season.
Former head coach Barry Gorman resigned just before the season after five years with the Lady Bears. Gorman is now coaching at Roger Williams University.
Taking over at the helm is John Nestel. Nestel is a former professional tennis player and a four-year varsity collegiate player at Division I Boston College.
Previously, he served as the head women’s tennis coach at Mount Ida College from 2009 to 2010. He guided the team to a Northeast Athletic Conference appearance in 2010, in just their second year of existence.
“All I can ask for is a team like this,” Nestel said. “The players are very coachable, there is great teamwork. I have simple expectations, I want everyone to improve, whether they are starters or non-starters. Perseverance is very important for me, I want the players to show their fighting spirit and dedication when they are playing.”
The Lady Bears are off to a good start behind in their new head coach, picking up a 6-3 win over Gordon College, a 9-0 win over Suffolk University, and a 5-4 win Johnson and Wales University on Tuesday.
Leading the way this season for the Lady Bears is senior co-captain Jenna Williamson. Williamson plays in the number one slot and is coming off of a season in which she was named Little East Conference Player of the Year.
In three years at Bridgewater State, Williamson is undefeated in conference play with a record of 24-0.
“My goal is simple every tennis match, I try to get the ball back into play, turn defense into offense,” Williamson said. “I try to break down my opponent’s game in the first set, and after I have found their weakness, carry it forward through the rest of the match.”
Senior Jackie McQuirk is new to the team, after transferring from University of Ashfield in South Carolina. She plays third doubles, but prefers singles. McQuirk plays a different game than Williamson, relying more on offensive shots and preferring shorter rallies.
“Ideally my goal would be to go undefeated this year, but it’s a far stretch,” McQuirk said. “Contribution for the tennis team is the most significant thing for me.”
Junior Melissa Flynn is also expected to contribute this year after a successful 2012 campaign.
“I try to bring out the maximum of myself when I step on the court,” Flynn said. “I fight for every point. I try to win every point.”
Her expectations echo what the team wants this year, which is to win the LEC Championship and go to the NCAA tournament.
It’s a long road to the NCAA Tournament though, but if the Lady Bears keep playing like they are, they will have a good shot at returning to the postseason.
Bridgewater State plays next on Saturday at Worcester State University. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m.
Tamas Bodrog is a Comment contributor. Editor-In-Chief Greg Dudek edited this story. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.