Meyer believes young squad on track for bright future

Sammi Hornbarger w
Junior Sammi Hornbarger readies for her return shot during a 2011 practice. The University of Dayton women’s tennis team opened its season falling to the University of Akron 6-1, Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Five Seasons Sports Club. (Courtesy of UD Athletics)

By: Nathan Vicar – Sports Writer

The University of Dayton’s women’s tennis team opened spring play against the University of Akron Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Flyer’s home court in the Five Seasons Sports Club.

Akron spoiled the home opener by winning 6-1.

UD went 0-3 during the doubles matches. The only close match was senior Erin Filbrandt and freshmen Katie Shepherd’s 6-7 loss in a tiebreaker to Akron freshmen Caroline Harpaintner and Marta Briega.

In the singles matches, the sole victor for UD was sophomore Carly Peck, who defeated Akron sophomore Madison Cohen 6-1, 6-2 in the No. 3 position. Dayton lost two third-set tiebreakers in the No. 2 and 5 spots after the match outcome had been decided, which produced the lopsided outcome against the Flyers.

Head coach Ryan Meyer spoke highly of Peck after her win.

“She played the best match as a Flyer thus far.” Meyer said. “We played well but didn’t make the most of our opportunities.

“With that being said I was very happy with our effort and just need to clean a few things up. Akron is a very strong team. They were coming in hot after beating a good West Virginia [University] team. We battled them tough but came up short.”

UD this season is hoping to improve after having two disappointing back-to-back years.

Dayton went 5-16 last season and 4-15 in 2012. Last season, UD finished 13th in the Atlantic 10 Conference and was knocked out of the A-10 Women’s Tennis Championship by the University of Massachusetts.

This season, UD is picked to finish 11th in the A-10, but they’re hoping to be overachievers and finish better than expected finish, Meyer said.

This year’s team is young. The Flyers only have two seniors, Claire McNulty and Filbrandt. Four freshmen make up the nine-player roster, leaving room for improvement.

“I’m pretty hopeful for the season this year,” Filbrandt said. “We were really strong my freshman year, but lost a lot of players, so we’ve been rebuilding the past couple years and we finally are getting there. I think we have the
potential to do really well this year.”

Meyer said he expects the team to keep improving and hopes to work toward getting this program to the top of the A-10.

“My players have been spending extra time doing individual workouts and
it’s showing in their progression as players,” Meyer said.

UD will look to improve its fundamentals of tennis and further develop strategies based on what they do well, according to Meyer. He said one of the team’s main weaknesses right now is missing key members due to injury, which limits its depth.

One of the main strengths, he said, is the team’s athleticism, which could help them in longer matches.

“Our girls have been working extremely hard in the weight room and on the court,” Meyer said.

Junior Sammi Hornbarger said the team is really excited about the season and is looking forward to playing some schools it hasn’t played before.

“We are focused and determined on having a winning record and are working hard on the court and in the weight room to achieve that,” she said. “Saturday’s match was a tough one. We had some really close matches that could have gone either way, but we are just getting started so hopefully we’ll keep improving as the season goes on.”

The Flyers look to bounce back next weekend, playing two matches at home on Friday, Jan 24., against Southern Illinois
University Edwardsville, and Sunday, Jan 26, against the University of Detroit Mercy.

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