The Texas A&M women’s tennis team will host LSU, Rice, Texas, Texas State and Texas Tech on Friday, Oct. 16, until Sunday, Oct. 18, at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station for the A&M Fall Invitational.
Due to COVID-19, the Aggies’ previous season was cut short, and the team went six months without competing.
A&M coach Mark Weaver said the team is ecstatic to be back on the court.
“I think we have handled the pandemic quite well,” Weaver said. “We definitely had to get our protocols in place and follow them. The practices and fitness have been off of the charts, and I think everyone not being able to practice or do anything for a few months has made everyone so excited to be back.”
The last matchup between the Aggies and these opponents resulted in wins for A&M, except for a 4-3 loss to Texas Tech in 2012. Last season, the Aggies beat LSU 4-1, Rice 4-3 and Texas 4-1. The previous matchup between the Aggies and Texas State ended in a 6-0 win for A&M in 2018.
Weaver said their expectations are high going into the invitational.
“Our expectation this weekend is to get three solid days of competition,” Weaver said. “Of course, we want to win every time we step on the court, but this is such a huge step forward for us just getting to compete, so we have to keep things in perspective.”
Despite last season getting cut short, junior Lucia Quiterio said the Aggies are hopeful and driven for what is to come this season.
“In the beginning of the pandemic, I was not as motivated,” Quiterio said. “Once I had the opportunity to work with the coaches again, I just tried to work as much as I can and use the advantage we have of being able to use the facilities.”
Quiterio ended last season ranked No. 20 in doubles, according to 12thman.com. During her freshman year, she posted a 17-3 singles record to start her career, all in dual matches.
Senior Tatiana Makarova said the team has more strength since coming back.
“The pandemic affected me in a significant way because we put so much work in, and then the season was over,” Makarova said. “We reevaluated our performance, and we all came out stronger.”
Due to injuries and some players opting-out this season until January, there will be six Aggies participating this weekend, including the first-time appearance of freshman Elise Robbins.
Aggie junior Jayci Goldsmith will be out this weekend due to an ankle injury. Goldsmith finished last season ranked No. 37 in doubles alongside Makarova, according to 12thman.com.
“It is really important for us to stay disciplined and be smart of our surroundings,” said Makarova. “We understand how important tennis is for us, especially during this period of time, and everyone is going to try their hardest.”
Quiterio said the team is set on making huge strides this season.
“It is our first tournament that we get to play as a team along with the coach's help,” Quiterio said. “Overall, I think we have the same goals as last year, and I really think our team can do big things this year.”