By Hayden Cox, Staff Writer
The Furman tennis teams are gearing up for another run at respective SoCon Titles as the new semester begins.
On the women’s team, top senior and South Carolina native, Ansley Speaks, returns. After winning the SoCon regular season last year, they are looking to repeat and add a tournament win to their resume as they seek a berth in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
The women began their season Jan. 15 against in-state rival University of South Carolina. Despite the 6-1 loss, the Paladins fought hard against the nationally ranked team (16th in the country) and most of the matches were close.
“We competed well. We are very confident in our performance against such a tough opponent, especially going towards conference play,” reported junior women’s standout Aryn Greene. “We are all very close off the court as well, I think that will help us work together as a team this upcoming season.”
The men’s team has similar goals, looking to reverse their luck as they return from a loss to East Tennessee State University in the conference championship last season for the second year in the row. Josh Pistorius, a junior, remains hopeful. “ETSU lost a lot of starters last year, so they have to fill some pretty big boots,” he said. “I like our chances.”
Like the women, the men play a tough schedule, starting their season with a 6-1 loss against Harvard in Boston Jan. 21. The men’s home opener is scheduled against Elon today, Jan. 26 at 3 p.m.
The men are relying on senior Adam Steryous and junior Cameron Green to lead some talented freshmen and seasoned upperclassmen towards an NCAA berth alongside the women.
The men have undergone a culture change this season as well, after graduating two seniors in their top four. “We narrowed the team down to eight guys this year. It works well though because everyone is hardworking, doing all the extra stuff to get ready for the season,” says Pistorius.
Look out for both the men and women Paladins as they enter SoCon, play and prepare for their SoCon Tournaments in late April.