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Lady Rams tennis progressing

BC's women's tennis team is making a turn for the better

Trey Wilson

April 26, 2012

At first glance, 5-9 might not seem like an impressive record. However, when you consider the Bluefield College women’s tennis team had not won a match since the 90s, it becomes more evident that this season has been a big jump for the program.

 

With a convincing 7-2 win over Greensboro College in February, the Lady Rams picked up their first win since the program was reinstated in 2009.

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BC Women's Tennis Team

Julie Austin is the team’s lone senior. Although she earned individual wins, she was a part of the last two winless seasons for the team.

 

Austin said the team certainly exceeded expectations this season.

 

“People didn’t really have high expectations for us in the first place,” said Austin. “This season is going a lot better than our seasons in the past because we have actually won some matches this year.”

 

The Lady Rams peaked midway through the season, earning three straight wins over Ferrum, Emory & Henry, and McDaniel.

 

This season, first-year head coach Mark Sarver took over a program that was dormant for nine years starting in 2000. When the program returned under former head coach Jessica Brokaw, also the assistant women’s basketball coach, the team compiled a 0-25 overall team record in its first three seasons.  

 

Sophomore Caitlin Allen said all of the credit for this season’s turnaround has to go to Sarver.

 

“He takes the time to work with us,” said Allen. “He watches us play, he hit some balls with us, but then he’ll come over to the other side of the net when he sees something that we need to fix. He’ll help us with it and take us step-by-step with it.”

 

The Lady Rams earned a conference win over Reinhardt on April 14. The win was not only the first win for the program in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, but it will be the only regular season AAC win for the program. Bluefield will be moving its athletic programs to the Mid-South Conference this fall.

 

Austin said she hopes the improvement will carry over when she leaves the program after this season, if Sarver can land quality recruits.

 

“Hopefully he will get some good recruits and we’ll be able to improve more,” said Austin. “This year, we’re still kind of lacking on really experienced players. It would be nice if he could get some players that will really improve and be more serious.”

 

Allen said she looks to see an even better record over the next few seasons with the experience that the current players have earned.

 

“We only have one senior graduating this year and three of us will be juniors next year,” said Allen. “We have two more years together. The other two will be seniors next year. I think our team will grow and improve, especially with Coach Sarver, because he works so hard to make us better players.

 

“I think we’re going to have a great season and I think we are going to surprise a lot of people.”

 

For now the Lady Rams will prepare for their final AAC tournament, where the Lady Rams can expect a tough first-round matchup.

 

“I’m expecting us to do pretty well,” said Allen. “I think the competition is going to be tough, so we are going to have to work really hard, but I think we can do well.”

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