The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s tennis team started full-team practices on Friday to prepare for the fall season. After losing two seniors, the team has added two new players.
“All of the upperclassman are taking on leadership roles even though they are not the named captain,” coach Courtney Vernon said. “I’m excited that they are taking on that responsibility and I’m excited for what they can do.”
The new players on the team are junior-transfer Alex Landert and freshman Julianna Curtis. Both of the players bring something different to the team that will help the program.
“I think that Juliana is very disciplined,” Vernon said. “I think she is going to continue on the tradition on what is here and the discipline that is on the team.
“Alex is a local girl from Naples, so I think she brings something special because we don’t have a lot of girls from right around this area. I think that is going to help with fans and getting people out to matches.”
Although practice has just started for the team, junior Elizabeth Means can already see the positive impact the new players are having on the returners.
“I think they are going to add a lot of intensity to the team in terms of competitiveness and the team comradery,” Means said. “They add a good level to our team and they are very energetic … They definitely add that element of energy to the team. They are great girls and great teammates and that’s evident even in the first few weeks.”
Landert is a transfer from Seton Hall University in New Jersey. The Naples resident said she wanted to attend school closer to home. FGCU was her first pick and she hopes to help the team improve this season.
“I’m looking forward to working with the team and seeing us all improve and get better,” Landert said. “I’m looking forward to playing matches and traveling because that is what we are working for every day in practice.”
Curtis is from Tampa and has known Vernon for a while. Her relationship with Vernon is one of the reasons she decided to come to FGCU.
“I decided to come here because one, it was close to my home in Tampa,” Curtis said. “Two, I knew the coach and I liked her a lot. I knew she was a good person and also the girls on the team are all really nice. The school is very relaxed and has a nice campus too.”
The team is coming off a successful spring season with an overall record of 14-8. It was the most wins in FGCU’s Division-I history, according to the FGCU Athletics website.
The team is going to use the fall season to prepare for conference play in the spring.
“I think the fall is extremely important because number one it shows me where the new girls are at and gives them an opportunity to get a taste of college tennis,” Vernon said. “We can also focus more on technique and how they want to play for the spring. It is invaluable just in a sense of also giving them confidence going into the spring.”
The Eagles start off the fall season with a local tournament at Eagles Landing this weekend. Senior Sarah Means and junior Elizabeth Means are going to represent FGCU in a professional tournament in Amelia Island this weekend too.
“I’m looking forward to the excitement of what I know the girls can do if they are 100 percent committed,” Vernon said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of what they can experience and I’m looking forward to the challenge that comes with that.”