By Cam Smith ’21
The Providence College Women’s Tennis Team will kick off their regular season on Wednesday, September 26, on the hallowed grounds of the PC Tennis Courts. The Friars are scheduled to take on Fairfield University in a match that is sure to provide some thrills.
The two teams battled it out last year with the Friars coming up just short in the match, falling to the Stags 4-3. Now, the team will have the chance to begin the season on a strong note, against an opponent that they came inches away from knocking off in the 2017-2018 season.
University of Mississippi tennis legend, Jakob Klaeson, enters his third season coaching the Friars after taking over prior to the spring term in January of 2016. The past two years the team has fallen in the first round of the Big East tournament, including last April’s 4-0 result against the seventh seeded Creighton University Blue Jays. However, there is reason for optimism in Friartown, as the squad returns almost all of last year’s members.
The Friars’ lone senior, Risa Takenaka ’19, will look to finish off a successful career at the College. Takenaka started her 2017 fall season in dominant fashion, with a 4-0 record in league singles play. Playing out of the number one slot, Takenaka saw her fair share of exciting victories in the spring season as well. Takenaka took down Villanova’s top dog, Lexi DeNucci, in a riveting match that was decided in a tiebreaker.
Takenaka is far from alone, as her doubles partner Aidan Epstein ’20 returns to the court as well. Epstein also saw a successful run last fall with a 3-1 singles record, and the dynamic duo teamed up for huge match wins in the spring against Sacred Heart (6-4) and Marist (6-3). Emily Collins ’20 and Natalie Pitocco ’20 also return to the team, and will look to replicate their 2-0 fall record in doubles play.
The upperclassmen will be joined by three compelling sophomores: Lauryn Jacobs ’21, Sera Satkowski ’21, and Grace Goyette ’21. The trio had their share of memorable freshman year moments, and will look to build on them in year two. All three were able to win their first singles matches of their collegiate careers, an outcome which the new class of incoming freshmen will surely want to replicate.
Mimi Dailey ’22, a graduate from Ursuline Academy, joins the squad after being named a Catholic Conference League All-Star in high school. Haley Gurski ’22, a Minnechaug Regional graduate, enters her collegiate career after making it to the championship match in all four years of high school play. The third newcomer, Katie Markham ’22, comes in as a veteran of the United States Tennis Association (UTSA) circuits, which allowed her to compete in matches across the country.
The Friars were able to step on the courts for the first time this past weekend, as they traveled to Hamden, Connecticut to participate in the Quinnipiac Invitational. They were joined in Hamden by other big-name schools such as Boston University, West Point, and the University of Connecticut. The tournament provided some much needed in-game experience for a squad coming off a long layoff since the spring season.
After taking on Fairfield last Wednesday, PC will stay at home to face off against the College of the Holy Cross on Saturday, September 29. They will hope to knock off the Crusaders in a similar fashion to last year, when the Friars handed them an emphatic 5-0 loss.
With a mix of savvy veterans and exciting young players, the Friars have a good chance of doing just that.