Kicking off the pre-season, Bellevue College women’s tennis team has started practice on Feb. 1 and has played their first pre-season game against a four-year school, Pacific Lutheran University, and lost 5-4. Four-year schools are harder to play than two-year schools and Head Coach Jason Chapman has scheduled a grueling pre-season, mostly playing against four-year schools. “I’m trying to prepare my team by playing four-year schools in the pre-season. We won’t be playing any NWAACC conference schools- maybe later on in the season. So right now, I’m giving them some hard matches and trying to push them a little bit to show them where they’re at. My ultimate goal is to get my girls to a four-year school after playing at Bellevue,” said Chapman.
Bellevue College women’s tennis team has won the NWAACC conference for eight straight years before, breaking the streak last year by finishing second. According to Chapman, the main issue last year was depth. This year, Chapman is very confident that his team will be back where they use to be, at the top. The team’s number one player, Rixing Xu, and their number six player, Lorraine Eng, returned this year after their great season last year. Some of the new additions to the team are Kristy Braunston, Anna Lefevbre, Nadean Al-Ali, Melanie Mortenson and Pon Lothong. “This year, we are stronger all the way through the lineup. We have a lot of depth this year, so we have a stronger team than last year and more talent as well. Practices are better. I feel like everyone is even, so anyone can hit with anyone. Whereas last year, there was some issue with the depth of the team,” explained Chapman.
Having a strong roster is part of winning; the rest of it depends on how they utilize that talent. Coach Chapman and Assistant Coach Amber Portka have been training the team physically and mentally. “The key [for the team] this season is to be confident, consistent, believe in themselves, work hard in practice, and just be really committed,” said Chapman. One of the aspects the team could improve, according to Chapman, is their doubles. He said, “As far as yesterday’s match, our weakness right now is in doubles. Our number two and number three doubles needs improving, but we are also facing a tougher team, the four-year schools.”
As the team continues their pre-season games against Linfield College, University of Puget Sound and Skagit Valley for the next three weeks, it will allow the team to see which aspects of the game they could improve on and give everyone the chance to feel comfortable playing with each other. Playing against another four-year school, the University of Puget Sound, will be a test to see where their strength and weaknesses are before the season begins.