It’s a tale of great expectations:

Florida A&M University’s women’s tennis team has been working rigorously toward becoming the queens of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for 2008.

Last year, South Carolina State University took home the title while the Rattlers came in fourth place.

The last MEAC championship won by the Lady Rattlers was in 1997, but this year they seem determined to turn things around.

This season the team lost a player that transferred but gained two freshmen to help pull together the team.

The team consists of a total of seven athletes that include Samaria Bailey, Sarah Brinkley, Ashley Green, Alice Izomar, Rachel Pye and newcomers Lanice Boyd and Latreece Olabegi.

The tennis team is optimistic about the new additions, Pye included. She said she sees an improvement.

“The team has gotten a lot better,” said Pye, a sophomore from Miami. “Our ultimate goal is to win the MEAC championship, and in order to make that happen we have to come out here and work hard in practice every day and perform in each match.”

When not competing against other teams, the Lady Rattlers can be found on the tennis courts practicing throughout the week.

Coach Rochelle Goldthreate said she is very excited about this season. She is looking forward to coming in first place in the MEAC championship.

The focus for this season seems to be all about the MEAC.

Every one seems to agree that bringing home the MEAC title will be beneficial for the team. The first MEAC match of the season will be against Lamar University on March 14. Senior Samaria Bailey said a change of focus is very evident.

“It’s going a lot smoother even though we haven’t won yet,” said Bailey, 21, a magazine production student from Macon, Ga. “I feel that we have matured, and I believe we understand and know what we will be going up against in the competition. We know what we have to do to be successful.”

So far this season, Goldthreate said there have been a few injuries.

“The women have been struggling with injuries early in this semester,” she said.

Despite the injuries, with new players and a new attitude the members of the tennis team said they work excellently together. Most of the ladies have been playing for more than 10 years. Bailey said the coaching helps out a lot as well.

“The coach has been pretty consistent,” she said. “She’s not too hard and her coaching style is laid back. She’s focusing on our consistency more so than anything.”

Olagbegi said the team has really come together. She, just like the rest of her teammates, is very optimistic about the MEAC championship.

“I expect us to keep working together and push toward the MEAC championship and bring back the first place trophy,” said Olagbegi, a freshman from Georgia.

The next tennis match will be March 6 at Samford University in Alabama.