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Accolades highlight the first two tournaments of the spring season

The women’s tennis team started its spring season with two tournaments back-to-back at the Florida Gulf Coast University Tennis Complex.
They started the weekend off with the Iowa Invitational, where they won 6-1 over Iowa State University. All three doubles teams won their matches, and the team won five out of their six individual matches.
The Iowa Invitational introduced the players for the first time to the new Intercollegiate Tennis Association rules put into effect this month. The new rules aim to make the matches shorter through a new time-management policy and calls for a third set tiebreaker if a player does not win in two consecutive sets.
“I looked at it as an opportunity for them to be challenged and uncomfortable, because then when we are under pressure and things aren’t going our way, we will know how to handle adversity,” head coach Courtney Vernon said. “I want them to welcome adversity rather than fear it.”
After the Iowa Invitational, they moved into their home tournament more prepared and ready to play against their competitors Iowa State, Arkansas State University, Florida Atlantic University and Northwestern State University.
“My goal for the weekend was to get a lot of match play in,” Vernon said. “It gave them an opportunity to work a lot on parts of their game that they needed to work on.”
Heading into the tournament, the players ensured they were ready physically and mentally for their matches.
“We knew it was going to be a long weekend, so we prepared,” junior Sarah Means said. “One of my other teammates and I used an ice bath every day to make sure our body would stay up because it was a long weekend.”
Their preparation led to success. They ended the Eagle Invitational with a total of 24 wins with three players winning their respective draws.
In the Flight A singles match, Sarah Means defeated Iowa State’s Ksenia Pronina 6-1, 6-0 to take the title. In Flight B, sophomore Elizabeth Means won her match against NSU’s Kateryna Platakova and in Flight C, junior Candela Munoz defeated FAU’s Biana Biglione.
“It was really cool because nobody on the women’s team had done it before, and three of us did it,” Sarah Means said. “It was tough, but it was nice that we were able to do what we did this weekend.”
In addition to the individual wins, senior Gyanna Mandic and freshman Briana Stampfli made it to the finals in the Flight B doubles match. However, they lost to their NSU competitors 6-1.
With both tournaments held at home, the players were able to enjoy the cheers from the spectators and the comforts of their own beds.
“It was nice to have the fans come out and support us all weekend,” Elizabeth Means said. “It’s easier with logistics and planning when we have a home match, but being home also adds that emotional aspect that you don’t get when you travel away.”
With the first two tournaments out of the way, the players are eager for the rest of the season after starting on a high note.
“There are a lot of positives from this weekend and we play again on Friday, so we are making sure that we are working on the right things in preparation for our next home match,” Vernon said.
The team plays Louisiana Tech this Friday and then University of Central Florida on Saturday at the FGCU tennis complex and is hoping to keep their momentum up.
“We all feel confident right now and are just trying to maintain that and continue to do better,” Means said. “Because it’s literally just the beginning.”

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