The women’s tennis team is trying to get closer to an Atlantic Ten Conference championship.
New coach Jill Breslin was looking to get closer to home.
The Absecon, N.J., native, formerly the coach at Louisiana-Monroe, got her wish and took over after Traci Green resigned following three seasons with the Owls. Green now coaches at Harvard.
“I moved back in January,” Breslin said. “I was trying to find a Division-I job that was local and it really worked out perfect.”
The Owls were a win away from A-10 perfection last season, losing to Richmond in the A-10 Championship. They finished the season 16-4, but a win short of a title.
However, the Owls have put last season behind them and came out swinging last weekend in Ithaca, N.Y.
Sophomore Elyse Steiner and freshman Theresa Stangl won the Flight B and Flight D competitions, respectively, at the Cornell Fall Invite. Junior Felicia Frazier and sophomore Christine Clermont competed in the finals. Sophomore Anastasiia Rukavyshnykova and freshmen Josephine Bergman and Lucie Pazderova advanced to the semifinals.
“We only had four days of practice,” Breslin said. “Every single one of them had a great tournament.”
“They showed a lot of heart. It really makes me excited about the upcoming season.”
In addition to coaching at Louisiana-Monroe, Breslin was a No. 1 tennis player at Alabama. She was ranked as high as No. 57 in the country and was a two-time Crimson Tide Most Valuable Player.
Breslin said she sees her experience as a strength when coaching because she knows what it’s like to be a student-athlete, can relate to the players and knows how to motivate them.
Breslin has an advantage compared to when she started at Louisiana-Monroe – she has players.
“We had only had three players and I came in around July or August,” Breslin said of her former coaching stint. “I had to do a ton of recruiting. Just start from the basics. It was a lot of trust issues and trying to help them.”
The Owls will have a young roster this season after losing four seniors. They have three freshmen and four sophomores. Captain Dina Senkina is the only senior.
However, Breslin is confident that their youth is a plus.
“I think it’s actually good that we have a young team,” she said. “We’re fresh. They’re hungry. They’re eager to play. With me coming in as a new coach, it’s kind of like we’re all going through this together.”
Breslin turned an inherited 3-15 Louisiana-Monroe team into a competitive 22-18 record during her two seasons. Now, she has her eyes set on improving the Owls and getting them over the hump.
“We’re focusing on the process right now,” she said. “My goal is to win the Atlantic Ten and to be a threat on the national level. We’re definitely a contender for it this year.”
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.