Women’s tennis tops at tourney

The Blugold women’s tennis team capped a successful weekend Sunday by defeating seven teams to win the UW-Whitewater Warhawk Invitational.

The team, fresh from Friday’s 9-0 conference victory over Whitewater, won three of six flights to score 37 points; UW-La Crosse and Whitewater scored 29 each, tying for second.

Nonetheless, ‘Golds coach Tom Gillman said the results of the team’s stellar weekend wasn’t the most important thing.

“We’re pleased to come out successfully the way we did,” he said. “But we really needed to give the freshmen the confidence that they can be successful.”

This confidence could be particularly important becauset novice Blugolds played No. 2 and No. 3 singles at the Invite.

Freshman Laurie Alonso won the title at No. 2, while fellow rookie Katie Steffes took third place in the No. 3 slot.

“The freshmen class has given our team a boost in a number of ways,” Gillman said. “The freshmen group is not only talented, but hard working.”

Senior captain Alison Hover agreed.

“It’s positive to have someone else to come in and push the level of play up a notch,” she said.

She added that despite being nervous, the younger Blugolds did a good job of stepping up.

For her part, Alonso was “a little more nervous than usual for most of the match,” she said. “Each match got easier for me.”

She didn’t know what to expect for her first collegiate match, she said. It has been a little bit intimidating being a freshman on the team, but her teammates made it easy to fit in.

“Team unity has been great,” Alonso said, adding that to bond, the women got together evenings after practice for meals and other activities.

“It’s great to have such good teammates to work with,” Alonso said.

Hover also emphasized the importance of team bonding to build camaraderie.

“We’ve let (all the returnees) take leadership roles,” she said. “You have to have a positive attitude to make the team work.”

Hover has that attitude, Gillman said.

“She does a wonderful job of leading by example,” he said. “Her work ethic and caring about the team are a great balance.”

For a team that is seeking its 10th straight WIAC conference championship this season, both youth and leadership, fresh faces and depth will be helpful factors, he said.

The team’s long-term goals might change as the season goes on, Gillman said, but the conference championship and a good ranking at nationals are on the Blugold’s minds.

“We’d certainly like to attempt to win the conference again this year,” he said. “I think we’ve got a confident veteran team.”