UCO Tennis Ready to Make a Racket

UCO Tennis Ready to Make a Racket

 

Alli Hodges, junior UCO tennis player, returns the ball during a Spring 2017 match in Edmond, Okla. (provided/ UCO Archives).

The University of Central Oklahoma tennis team begins their season this Friday as they play in the Oral Roberts Invitational tournament and will face off against ORU, Northeastern State and Tarleton State.

Second year Head Coach Jaron Maestas said that the level of competition will help him see where his team is at in the beginning of the year.

The Lady Bronchos have a mixture of youth and experience with four juniors, a redshirt sophomore, and three freshmen, with junior Alli Hodges leading the way for the team.

“Alli is my captain,” said Maestas. “She has the skills to be a great player this year. Her work ethic and the things that she does is why she’s our backbone and is going to be a big part of holding this team together.”

Hodges says she knows that she, along with junior Kirtana Bhat and junior Alix Williams, are the veterans on the team and will have to help the newcomers anyway they can.

“We know what to expect,” said Hodges. “We know what kind of energy we need to have during the matches. So, we just have to help them with those types of things because they’ve never been in a college match situation.”

“We also need to have a positive attitude all throughout practice and work hard every day. That is what kind of role models we’re trying to be right now.”

With that mixture of youth and experience, Coach Maestas said he believes that his team has the potential to be a top ten team in the country.

“I think we’re a really strong team,” Maestas states. “We’re going to be a really good team as long as all the little small things come together. If we can do that, I feel like it could be a really good season this year.”

One of the little things that Coach Maestas was referring to was how the Lady Bronchos struggled in doubles last year, going as far as to say that doubles was their Achilles’ heel.

Hodges agrees with her head coach that improving in their doubles will help them in the long run.

“To improve our doubles is our number one goal,” said Hodges. “Last year we struggled a lot, but I think our doubles can be stronger this year because we added some players with some height.”

Freshman Laetitia Charbonnet is listed at 5 feet 10 inches, while Sarah Van Eeckhoudt, a redshirt sophomore transfer from New Mexico State, is listed at 6 feet.

“Being better at doubles will give us more confidence and the momentum going into our singles, and I think we’ve already improved on that in the past couple of weeks,” Hodges said.

But in the end, the Lady Bronchos said they want to improve on being an overall better team.

“Supporting each other, knowing that there is one goal, and having everybody buying in to the system is what we’re trying to establish here,” said Maestas. “We’re kind of starting a legacy and I hope we turn our legacy into a dynasty. We have the caliber to be a top ten team in the country, it’s just a matter of getting the work done now.”

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