Photo: File photo
After the 2010 spring season ended with a loss to Illinois State in the first round of the State Farm MVC Tournament, the Drake women’s tennis team is now prepared to look ahead to the 2011 season.
Graduating only one player from last year’s team, this year’s team will consist of four seniors out of the nine players.
“We have (four) girls graduating this year,” head coach Paul Thomson said. “I think that those (four) girls in particular don’t want to fall back after last year. I think they want to move forward even further and see what they can accomplish with their little bit of time left here at Drake.”
Thomson is entering only his second season as Drake’s head coach.
“Last year was kind of a learning experience for me,” he said. “There was a lot of adjusting going on between me and the players and the players and me; also me learning kind of the ins and outs of the university and the athletic department. That was a lot of what we worked on last fall, and then by the spring we were more used to each other.”
After taking the time to adjust to his new team and home, Thomson noted the differences between last year and this year, both personally and as a team.
“Last year was more about changing the perception of the culture and the dynamics of the team, of who we think we have been versus who we think we can be, and confidence building type of things,” he said. “Now I have my feet on the ground. I’m not scampering around like a rat on a sinking ship looking for any survival method. And I can already see a more confident, comfortable perception or mood with the players.”
One of those players is Gabby Demos, a senior who is excited about the possibilities of this season.
“I’m definitely more excited going into this season than previous seasons,” Demos said. “Our sophomore season was a little rough so I was a little nervous going into last season. Freshman year was a lot of fun just because we’re so new and excited, but I am really excited about this season; we have a lot of seniors and I think all of us are going in hoping to end with a bang.”
The season officially begins today with the team’s first practice. On this year’s team are two freshmen, Nell Boyd and Amanda Dick, who are already earning praise from their teammates and coach.
“I think they are really going to bring in new energy and a new positive attitude which I really think will be good for the upperclassmen,” Demos said. “Everyone will need to be on their game with new faces around so I really think it will help with the intensity also.”
Thomson agreed that both new players will bring positive changes.
“Both of these guys are going to bring a fresh dynamic to our team,” Thomson said. “I think they’ll both be able to push some of the other players on the roster and just be that spark that we needed. They get along great with the players and fit in well already. I think the team chemistry this year will be great, and those two will be the little edge that this team needs.”
The team’s first competition will be the Drake Fall Invitational on Sept. 9-11 at the Knapp Center. The first time the team will be on the road is Sept. 23 when it travels to Cedar Falls for the Northern Iowa Fall Invitational.
“I really hope we get off to a good start,” Demos said. “After the season ended last year I think we were all kind of disappointed, and we’re just ready to leave that behind and have a fresh start and leave last year in the dust a little bit. But I really think we have a good start to this season.”