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Despite tennis team’s youth, MSM getting consistently solid play

What happens when there are no seniors on a roster? That was a question that Mount St. Mary tennis coach Laura Ellis had to find an answer to this season as her 2013 team’s most experienced players are its five juniors.

She moved players around, and put some in positions they weren’t used to being in to find a lineup that worked. It seems to have worked as the Thunder have enjoyed early season success despite such a young roster.

“Right now, I’m happy with where we are at,” Ellis said. “We’re still progressing and getting better every match, and that’s where I want us to be because All-Catholics are coming up (soon).”

Losing its first and second singles players left the team with low expectations throughout the league. Instead, the Thunder are playing like a team that knows it can compete.

“Our singles are really consistent, and have been playing really well,” Ellis said.

A big reason for the consistent level of play has been junior captain Kristina Rovison, a former doubles player who was moved up to singles. So far, her transition has seemingly been easy as she is unbeaten in match play this year.

“I prefer singles,” she said. “I like it a lot better because you have no one to rely on but yourself. It’s more fun, and more challenging. I feel that I get a little less nervous playing singles.”

Rovison said that there was a lot of uncertainty amongst the players coming into this season due to the team overhaul. However, they have really surprised everyone, including themselves, with their results so far.

“It was really hard coming into the season because of who we lost,” she said. “Everyone had to move up whether they were ready and willing or not, but I think as a team we’ve done a good job of coming together as a whole. Because of that, we’re doing a lot better this season than expected.”

Ellis realizes that with All-Catholics just a week away (May 18-19) there is still work to be done for her team to be at the point where she thinks players will be ready to compete.

“The skill level is definitely there, but the big thing is to just keep up with the consistency throughout the match,” she said. “We need to make sure we are playing smart. In doubles, we need to be communicating together.”

She added: “We’re still building up our endurance. And since the rallies have been so long for us this year, that’s what we need to focus on.”

Ellis and her players all feel that it’s only a matter of time before they are peaking to the point where they know they can compete for a Monsignor Martin Championship.

For now, it’s all about controlling what they can, and the results are beginning to show on the court.

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