UW- Eau Claire women’s tennis season preview

Blugolds focus on gaining strength and confidence as the second half of the season approaches

More stories from Kaitlyn Zenner


Photo by Submitted

UW-Eau Claire women’s tennis team huddles up in their win against UW-La Crosse during their fall season

The UW-Eau Claire women’s tennis team had a promising start to the first half of their season in the fall. While the Blugolds fell to UW-Whitewater in their first match of the season back in August, UW-Eau Claire fought back and maintained a six game winning streak to end with an overall record of 6-1 and a conference record of 5-1. UW-Eau Claire then went on to place third in the WIAC Championship tournament.

Standouts from the WIAC tournament include Natalie Wijesinghe, a third-year athlete, who placed second in the No. 1 singles bracket, along with Emily Cooper, a second-year athlete, who placed third in the No. 2 singles bracket. Molly Stewart, a fourth-year athlete, playing in the No. 3 singles spot, also finished third in the tournament.

Though the Blugolds had success during the fall season, Tom Gillman, the UW- Eau Claire women’s head tennis coach, found that one of the biggest challenges the team faced was adjusting to the incoming first-years, who made up eight out of the 14 players on the team.

“We were a younger team than we expected to be, but I think the team was very willing to be coached, and you know, we just seem to get along really well together,” Gillman said. “Just because we’re younger, we’re finding our way and trying to build our confidence.”

As the team builds up this trust in one another, the Blugolds look to gain even more success come spring. No. 1 singles and doubles player Natalie Wijesinghe said she is hoping to see the team perform at an even greater level in the WIAC Championship tournament.

“The one area we struggled with was our conference tournament,” Wijesinghe said. “We ended up getting third, and while we played decently, we didn’t seem to have the edge that we normally had during the regular season. We are hoping to go into spring’s conference tournament more focused and ready than ever.”

As for the team’s goals going into the latter half of the season, Wijesinghe explained the importance of gaining more strength and confidence to beat difficult teams.   

“In this half of the season, our main focus is on getting in the best shape, mentally and physically, as we can during our early matches,” Wijesinghe said. “It will be really important for us to feel confident going into the latter half of our season when we play teams like Coe, Grinnell and La Crosse. We want to make sure to build a strong foundation for our games before we get to these tougher matches.”

Building this confidence, along with gaining a sense of cohesion among the group throughout the fall season, has Coach Gillman excited for what is in store for the spring.

“Having the comfort level, being on the team and having a little experience,” Gillman said.  “We’re excited to see what they can accomplish the second half of the year.”

The Blugolds’ first matchup will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 2 against St. Norbert in Green Bay.

Zenner can be reached at [email protected].