By Michael Campagna
After a successful 2015 season that saw both teams take third place in the Peach Belt Conference, the men’s and women’s tennis teams are looking to build on last year’s momentum in the upcoming spring season.
Last season, the men placed 12th in the nation and the women placed 16th, both narrowly missing a spot in the national tournament.
With an extra year of experience and strong senior leadership, the team hopes to have enough to take the Peach Belt title and advance to nationals.
“Our goal is always to win the Peach Belt,” said head tennis coach Steve Barsby. “And if we win the Peach Belt, we’re going to have a shot to do really well in the national tournament.”
For senior mass communication major Taylor Powell, the 2016 season is his last chance to compete at nationals, a goal he has had since making his Bobcat debut.
“Honestly, I’m going to be disappointed if we don’t go,” Powell said. “It’s my last season, and we’ve never made it to nationals. We make it to regionals every year and finish third or fourth, and that’s not good enough.”
Powell set a high standard last year, leading the team in singles wins and ranking among the top singles players in the PBC.
“Last year was actually the best year I’ve had at Georgia College,” Powell said. “I went 11-2 in singles play and right around .500 in doubles.”
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association placed the men’s team at No. 3 in the preseason rankings. The team will hosted their first non-conference game of the season against Morehouse College on Jan. 31, sweeping the Maroon Tigers 9-0.
The women’s team also had a strong year in 2015. The team finished last season after advancing to the regional tournament for the 21st season in a row.
“I think all together as a team we did really well, probably one of our best years since I’ve been here,” said senior exercise science major Katie Krupp.
Krupp had her best season in 2015, posting a 10-1 record in singles matches and a 15-9 record in doubles, alongside her partner Jena Kelly.
After last season’s success, the team has a lot to live up to in the coming months in order to secure a spot in the national tournament.
“I just want us to go into every match with a lot of confidence, knowing that we can do this, because I know we can make it to nationals,” Krupp said.
The women’s season kicked off Saturday, Jan. 30 with a close 5-4 non-conference win on the road against Brenau University.
With a strong lineup of experienced players and the mutual goal of reaching the national tournament, both teams show great potential for the upcoming spring season.
“I’m looking forward to a good season, because we’ve got good senior leadership with the guys, and with the girls we have the same thing,” Coach Barsby said. “If we come together we could do some good things.”