After a groundbreaking 2014 season, with the Lady Bisons winning the Great American Conference (GAC) regular season and tournament titles, the women’s tennis team has carried that momentum nicely into 2015.
After sweeping through their first three games and then grinding out a 6-3 neutral site victory over Delta State University, they now sit at 4-0 on the year while boasting a ranking of 36th nationally in NCAA DII polls.
The undefeated start, along with last season’s successes, have pushed confidence and expectations to an all-time high.
Head coach Marco Ruiz said that the recent successes come from how much time the girls have put into the team.
“The great start can really be attributed to all the hard work in the off-season and our team chemistry,” Ruiz said. “We’re looking to the girls who were here last year and accomplished so much to lead this year’s team and be just as successful.”
Junior Ali Bishop, Harding’s No. 2 in singles and a integral part of the 2014 title team, said that those expectations drive the team and herself to work harder.
“We’ve been working our butts off in practice,” Bishop said. “We all know we have each other’s backs and we’re willing to fight for each other on the court. We want to win the conference and make it to nationals. It’s going to be a long season, but we know we can do it.”
The Lady Bisons showed the fighting spirit last week against Delta State. In their first true test of the season, the Lady Bisons took four of the six singles matches from the Lady Statesmen, including a huge three-set victory at No. 6 singles from freshman Emily Faulkner, then followed it up by taking two of three doubles matches to win 6-3.
“That really was a tough match,” Bishop said. “Everyone fought hard and we had some freshmen really step up and secure the win at the end for us. Everyone’s doing their part, and that keeps us glued together right now.”
With a grueling conference schedule still ahead, Ruiz said that he knows his girls are ready to play for one another.
“College tennis is as much of a team sport as basketball or volleyball and our girls have realized that,” Ruiz said. “They love to push, support and encourage each other, on and off the court.”
The Lady Bisons next stop on their quest to defend their GAC title is next Friday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. against Drury University in Springfield, Mo.