The UW-Eau Claire women’s tennis team concluded their season this past weekend when they took second place at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
This is the team’s second consecutive season finishing second in the WIAC standings.
The Blugolds began the tournament with a 5-2 victory over UW-La Crosse, but lost to 26th-ranked UW-Whitewater in the tournament finals.
Head coach Tom Gillman said he is proud of his players and they made it tough on their opponents all season.
“This team worked extremely hard all year, and advancing to the finals was a goal of ours that we were able to accomplish,” Gillman said.
He said the Blugolds had several girls step up in their match with La Crosse, including sophomore Maddie Johnson. Johnson won her doubles match up as well as her singles match against La Crosse. She said this was the team’s first time beating La Crosse in a head to head competition.
“We were really excited with how we finished this year,” Johnson said. “La Crosse is a natural rival for us, so beating them was huge for the team.”
Johnson thought her team fought very hard. The match with La Crosse was set up so that first team to five points won. Because of this, she felt the team needed to come out fast. Johnson won her doubles match 9-7 at the number two spot.
“I was really proud of my doubles and singles victories, because I was able to stick with it in both matches and play hard,” Johnson said.
Another Blugold that was able to secure a singles victory was sophomore Renee Nelson. Nelson, who usually doesn’t start, was asked to step into the lineup when one of her teammates fell ill.
On the biggest stage of the season, Nelson went on to capture the final point in the La Crosse match, giving her team the victory, punching her team’s ticket to the finals in the process. She said that it was something she will never forget.
“I was extremely excited to play because I just wanted to help my team,” Nelson said. “My match was the match that ended the contest so it was neat that I was able to help my team capture the victory.”
In the finals the Blugolds fell to UW-Whitewater 9-0. Nelson said the team played some strong matches and were able to keep Whitewater out on the courts for a long time.
“We knew that these could potentially be our last matches so we wanted to leave it all out on the court, and we did,” Nelson said.
The Blugolds are now looking toward the offseason, which will begin with their team banquet in the coming weeks followed by a summer where individual improvement will be a priority.
Johnson said this summer the team plans on getting together a lot, and improving as a team.
“All of us want to improve this offseason on a few aspects of our game, our main goal is to beat Whitewater,” Johnson said.
In order to make the strides it will take to beat defeating conference champion Whitewater, Coach Gillman said the team must continue to make the right choices on and off the court, and focusing on continuing the tradition of hard work that his previous teams have displayed.
Gillman said he has a lot of confidence in the group of girls coming back for next season.