Navy Women's Tennis Looks To Take Final Step in 2013
Jan. 16, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- In just three short years, the Navy women's tennis program has risen from a club team to a Patriot League power, reaching the tournament championship match in each of the last two years while compiling a 42-13 (.764) record over the same span.
But in each of the last two years, Navy has fallen short of its goal of winning the Patriot League title as rival Army has knocked off the Midshipmen both times.
Now, with his first class of recruits serving as senior leaders, starters returning at every position, and the addition of a talented recruiting class, head coach Keith Puryear hopes 2013 is the season the Midshipmen can break through.
Navy is coming off a 2012 fall season in which it ramped up its competition, competing in upgraded events at Wake Forest and Stony Brook and increasing the level of play at both of its home tournaments. Puryear was pleased with how the fall season went.
"I felt we had a pretty good fall season. We probably had the toughest competition we have ever had with the new event at Wake Forest, strong teams at Stony Brook and our two tournaments where we added new teams, which really increased the level of play. I was pleased with the way we reacted and represented ourselves. The returning players really came in prepared and provided guidance and leadership to the plebes," said Puryear.
Navy's 2013 season will undoubtedly go as its seniors go. Emani Decquir, Dye Das and team captain Stefanie Ton have accounted for 143 career singles victories and 135 doubles wins while ranking second, fifth and third, respectively, on the career wins list at Navy.
Decquir is a three-time first-team all-Patriot League selection and owns a 54-46 career record after going 8-7 during the fall campaign
"Emani had a really good fall. Her record didn't necessarily show it, but she was very solid playing in the A Flight," said Puryear.
Das has became mostly a doubles player, owning a 43-32 doubles record while being paired with junior Darien Sears. Her 43 wins are the third most in school history.
Ton will serve the role as team captain this spring and owns a 50-36 career singles mark and a 45-49 doubles record. She was a second-team all-Patriot League selection a season ago.
This senior class holds a special place in Puryear's heart after being his first recruiting class and the group that has been part of the program since day one.
"They are near and dear to my heart. They are the ladies that came in when we had nothing when we were elevating our club program. We had no history or tradition, so they had to go on my word with what we were trying to do and to trust me," said Puryear. "They were challenged from the very start as plebes. I look at the plebes this year and as accomplished as they are, they don't have to come in and play at the top spots and can work their way into it. This group did not have that luxury. They had to hit the ground running. I think it makes me appreciate their drive and confidence and what they have given to this program has been invaluable."
Sears and Erin Snook comprise the two-person junior class and despite being small in numbers, the duo has put up big numbers.
Snook, despite being a junior, is the school-record holder in singles victories with 56. She went 24-12 as a freshman, 23-6 as a sophomore and is 9-7 already this year. She was a second-team all-Patriot League honoree as a sophomore and her .691 winning percentage (56-25) is the second-best mark in school history (min. 10 wins). Snook owns a blistering 37-9 dual-meet record.
Sears played No. 1 singles all of last season, recording a 16-16 overall mark and is 44-31 for her career, the fourth-most wins in school history. As a freshman, Sears went 24-9, tying for the school record for victories in a season.
Winter tied a school-record with 24 wins last spring while playing No. 5 singles, but suffered a broken wrist during semester break and her return this year is questionable.
Kaufmann posted an 18-6 record a year ago that featured a school-record 13-match winning streak. However, she suffered a knee injury in the preseason and will be slowed by that for the first few weeks of the spring season.
Freshmen Logan Antill, Mikaela Carlson, Vivian Chau, Sam Droop, Cassandra Fisbeck, Katie Porter and Tracy Thorsell will all compete for starting spots for the Midshipmen, and all had some success during the fall.
Leading the freshmen was Logan Antill, who set a school record for wins in the fall season with a 12-5 record. Antill reached the finals of both the Bill & Sandra Moore Invitational and the Navy Blue & Gold Invitational.
Droop added seven victories and Carlson and Chau each contributed six wins during their first career action during the fall.
"I thought the plebes did a nice job last fall. Logan Antill had the best results and really did good job of competing, even in some of the matches she lost. She tried to establish herself as a force to be reckoned with in singles and doubles and to solidify her spot in the lineup," said Puryear. "I also thought Sam Droop had a solid fall and I think she had a couple of matches that she let slip away, but with experience that won't happen. All in all, everyone did what we expect of them which is to work hard and improve from first practice to last."
Navy will open the season this weekend against St. Francis (Pa.) and at Virginia Tech. Puryear has decided to ramp up his scheduling a bit as the Midshipmen will face Virginia Tech, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure, Villanova, Richmond and Seton Hall, in addition to facing Army in a dual meet for the first time.
"Of course, the goal is always to try and win the Patriot League Championship. This is the first year we are playing Army in the Star Meet and then we go up there for the the Patriot League Tournament, and that will present a huge challenge," said Puryear. "We go beyond the wins and losses and try to concentrate on the process and making sure the players are doing the things we need to do to improve every single day and to finish by hopefully playing our best as the year is winding down. If we go out and we have prepared properly and we get there and aren't able to secure it, we have done our part. We want to make sure we work hard everyday to get to that point."
# GO NAVY #