NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Atlantic Sun Conference portion of the tennis schedule begins for the Lipscomb women’s team Thursday and it can’t start quick enough.
North Florida will visit Huston-Marsh-Griffith Tennis Center on the Lipscomb campus at 10 a.m. A men’s match between the two schools will follow at 2 p.m.
The Lady Bisons are 7-6 overall. UNF is 8-3 after ending an eight-match win streak with a 4-2 loss to South Alabama.
“The first half of our conference schedule is the hardest part,” Lipscomb coach Jamie Aid said. “We have the three Florida schools up front.
“It is a matter of getting our girls ready to compete. North Florida is a deep team. We have played a lot of matches that have been thrown at them really quick because of the weather. I think they are tired of playing these non-conference matches. I think and hope they are ready for the conference season.”
The Lady Bisons are coming off a 4-3 loss to Western Kentucky at home Tuesday.
“We won the doubles point,” Aid said. “We did great in doubles.”
In singles only Borck and Kinnen won their matches.
Hannah Gamage has been anchoring the No. 1 spot, a challenge for any player, especially a freshman.
“Hannah is in a good spot,” Aid said. “She is competitive. All of the girls in the No. 1 spot have an ambition of playing tennis post-college. From a maturity level we have seen a big turnaround in Hannah from the fall.
“They are used to winning. So when you beat them in the first set they are not going to shut down in the second. They are putting their game plan together to see how to win the second set and go to the third.”
Seniors Deahna Welcher, at No. 2 singles, and Jenny Borck at No. 5, have been demonstrating maturity in their roles as the only senior.
“Deahna is hitting the ball the best she has ever hit it,” Aid said. “She is doing great.
“In the past some of our seniors have been burned out at this point in their careers. But Deahna and Jenny have done really well this year in wanting to leave the program better than when they started. Both of them are excited to play this season and that is exciting. They have fire in them.”
Laura Kent has been a mainstay for the team in the middle at No. 3. Danielle Kinnen is holding down the No. 6 spot.
“It is matter of being productive at three,” Aid said. “Melissa Kromer is at No. 4. We are relying on our depth.”
Aid points to Borck and Kinnen as anchors in the lineup.
“Jenny has been really productive at No. 5,” Aid said. “Dani and Lorena Djuknic have bounced back and forth at No. 6 depending on the week.
“Those two spots kind of give us a piece of mind. We know we can anchor it down there.”
Last season the Lady Bisons made their first trip to the A-Sun Tournament as the No. 6 seed. Aid thinks this team can be a higher seed and go deeper than the first round. The first step to those goals begins with UNF.
“We have the talent,” Aid said. “It is going to depend on the mental perspective of our girls and how they approach these matches.”
Aid wants to see her team play with the confidence of a team that wants to obtain those goals.
“We have a fear of losing,” Aid said. “They get so tight. We have to take the next step to playing to the extent where you are not afraid of executing points.
“I call it playing safe tennis. It doesn’t work at this level. We have to do a better job of pushing back when we get pushed a little bit.”