Fall has always been the season of change, and it is no different for what Pioneer women’s tennis is doing this year with the transition from spring to fall athletics.
Pioneer women’s tennis officially took on their first fall season this year .With two back to back seasons, women’s tennis has toughened out the challenges and has prepared for the first fall tennis season for Pioneer athletics.
Practicing and competing on a brand new polished tennis court, the lady Pioneer’s have eagerly jumped into their first collegiate fall experience.
“It’s been terrific,” head tennis coach Brian Mogus said. “The atmosphere of being in the center of campus with such beautiful courts makes it wonderful for all of the players.”
“The courts were slated to be refinished as part of the routine improvement projects scheduled for all the buildings and facilities on campus,” Athletic Director Charlie Grimes said. “It wasn’t mandated by the GLIAC, but to have these courts here on campus in the best condition possible, helps us host GLIAC competition in style.”
The lady Pioneers made their switch from spring to fall from the recent upgrade to NCAA Division II’s GLIAC conference. The transition not only affected the quality of competition but also the timing of the season, making Pioneer women’s tennis a permanent fall sport.
“NCAA Division II and the GLIAC conference execute women’s tennis as a fall sport and men’s tennis as a spring sport,” Grimes said. “This actually brings more publicity and notoriety to both programs. Our coach, Brian Mogus, can now concentrate his time very specifically with each team all year round.”
“In some ways it is easier to just be able to focus on the women’s team,” Mogus said. “But it has been weird for the girls. They are used to having all the missed classes during the spring and are well-adjusted to their class schedule.”
Spring to Fall Challenges
Switching from a spring to fall sport can definitely have its perks, but when change arrives in both division and seasonal timing, readjusting to the schedule can be none-the-less challenging.
[pullquote]We are not quite as prepared as our opponents,” Mogus said. “Against some of the top teams in the conference, our girls set up points and had chances but just didn’t execute, so lack of experience at this level is all that I think we are missing.”[/pullquote]
“It is such a great experience for the girls to see different parts of the country and play against the best in division II,” Mogus said. “It’s also been a great opportunity to show how strong God is through our girls.
“But the travel is overwhelming for everyone. The girls travel, play a match, get to a hotel, go to sleep, and repeat. This has been hard on them, but they have handled it well.”
Senior tennis player Kim Knisely also shared her thoughts on the season and the challenges they have had to face.
“It is a little frustrating,” Knisley said. “We are playing a lot of tough schools, especially the schools in Michigan. But I think our coaches expect a lot out of us.”
The GLIAC conference has exceptionally been a challenge for all the fall athletes. Matching against some of the top ranked teams in the nation has only made it that much harder for Pioneer women’s tennis to adjust.
“We are not quite as prepared as our opponents,” Mogus said. “Against some of the top teams in the conference, our girls set up points and had chances but just didn’t execute, so lack of experience at this level is all that I think we are missing.”
Practice makes perfect
Despite the tough schedule and losses, the team still maintains a strong and encouraged attitude. The more challenging matches that are under the team’s belt, the better it makes the team.
“I have to say this is the most talented and hardworking women’s tennis team I’ve seen in my time at Malone,” Mogus said. “The best part is the team chemistry. For an individualized sport like tennis, it is unbelievable how close they are to one another.
“Our motto this summer and fall has been ‘Prepare or repair’ (John Maxwell) and it has showed.”
“We are definitely more prepared than other years,” Knisley said. “We had preseason and we had practices every single day in the summer, while in other years we would only have two or three.”
Through the chilled frost fall weather, the Pioneers look forward to just going out there and making a name of its own against its rivalries.
Being this year’s first year of NCAA athletes, the team anticipates on playing with heart and attitude.
“Malone has the reputation of being a little school and not being as competitive,” Knisley said. “Being the only Christian school, we have that expectation to be Christ- like on the court. We want the other teams to see that and see that we still are competitive.”
“The expectations are kept in perspective,” Mogus said. “We don’t expect to win the GLIAC, but we want to go .500 and show the other teams that we belong in our new division.”
Pioneer women’s tennis will continue their new fall season when they compete at Lake Erie College on Saturday, September 29th at 4:00 p.m.
Tina Oprean is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.