Women battle on unfamiliar turf

Unfamiliarity with its opponents contributed to the Florida A&M Rattlers women’s tennis team’s performance during the Kennesaw State Fall Invitational this weekend in Marietta, Ga.

Universal Tennis Academy featured opposing teams Kennesaw State University Owls, Georgia Southern Eagles and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs.

Junior Alexis Brown, a player who led the team in wins last season, suffered a knee injury that forced her to sit out during the KSU Invitational. FAMU head coach Rochelle “Nikki” Goldthreate spoke about her team’s awareness on having to raise their level of play before heading on the road.

“I feel like we should do well because in the past we had to deal with injury situations,” she said. “We’ve had times where players had to sit out, so I think we’ll respond being one player short.”

The KSU Tournament’s format was four flights of singles matches and two flights of doubles matches. The singles and doubles matches consisted of both main draw and consolation matches.

After winning the second set in the quarter finals singles, junior Deke Olagbegi was defeated by Kennesaw State’s Mackenzie Swindall 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Junior Britney Dean lost in two sets to Kennesaw State’s Ayano Tanaka 6-0, 6-0.

Junior Kathline Durden also suffered a defeat to Georgia Southern’s Caitlin Kitchen 6-4, 6-3. FAMU’s Maria Gomez and Bethany Holt lost in the quarterfinals of singles play.

In doubles play, the combo of Dean and Olagbegi was beaten by Kennesaw State’s duo of Shkundina and Swindall 8-4 in the first round match. Durden and Gomez fell to Kennesaw State 8-2 in the semi-finals.

“Overall we just need to be more consistent as a team,” Durden said. “Each of us has our own spots that we need to work on in order for us to beat these big teams.”

Even though the women’s team struggled to advance throughout the tournament, Dean said she always takes something from tough road matches.

“I have to remain confident in my abilities and keep a positive attitude,” Dean said. “I have learned to not let one mistake consume me during sets and just be able to brush those things off.”

Olagbegi said the team has really been trying to recognize their weaknesses during tournament play so they can counter them before it’s too late.

The Kennesaw State Owls earned the majority of the victories winning both draws in doubles competition and winning one out of the three singles draws.