Hit with adversity, Lions look to break serve

by Beacon Staff • October 4, 2006

This is the home of Emerson women's tennis. The squad is the last of the holdouts, the only Emerson athletic team still playing home games at the small college in Chestnut Hill.,Pine Manor College's tennis courts are nestled at the far end of the school's wooded campus. A road winds its way through pine trees for a while before depositing one at the parking lot adjacent to the courts.

This is the home of Emerson women's tennis. The squad is the last of the holdouts, the only Emerson athletic team still playing home games at the small college in Chestnut Hill. The rest of the teams that used to play there have all moved on, either to Rotch Field or to the new gym at Piano Row.

Under normal circumstances, the team would be playing home matches at the Boston Athletic Club, but the courts there are being resurfaced. And then again, circumstances around this team have not been normal for quite some time.

Aside from being without a home court, this year's squad must adjust to an influx of eight new freshmen and a brand new coach.

Keith Warner, who also coaches the men's tennis team, took over the spot vacated by Gary Chafetz, after Chafetz departed at the end of last year's season.

Warner said he was enjoying his new job so far.

"They have very good attitudes," he said. "They're very coachable."

Senior Captain Jodie Jordan said the team's new coach has made a difference.

"It's a completely different atmosphere just cause he's Emerson savvy and he knows what's going on," she said. "He knows tennis better than Gary and he cares a lot so that translates to our morale."

This year, the Lions are 2-4 on the season but they do have enough people to play.

Last year, such was not the case. The team would show up to meets and end up forfeiting matches because there was no one left to play them.

"We have a full team [this year]," junior Erika Rydberg said. "That has helped us become a team when we're out there but we've become friends, too."

And as the Lions have bonded, their play has slowly but steadily improved. After an 0-3 start to the season, the team has won two of its last three matches.

Yesterday the Lions notched their first victory in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play by beating Pine Manor. The match was officially deemed a road game for the Lions, despite the fact it was played on the same court the Lions now call home.

Warner said he had noticed an improvement in his team's play.

"We're starting to play better every match out," he said after the Lions' latest win. "As a unit, we have to improve our team I.Q."

Jordan said the team's early struggles were part of adjusting to new players.

"We have a young team," she said. "It's hard to just jump right into a sport when you're new to the school and new to a city."

Rydberg, a fourth and fifth singles player, agreed.

"We have a new team, a new coach, a lot of freshmen and the season's so short that we didn't really get a chance to practice a lot together," she said.

Despite the squad's early struggles, Jordan said it was important for players not to get down on themselves.

"Keeping our heads up and looking at the next point," she answered when asked what the team needed to improve upon most.

As for team's potential for success in this, her final season, Jordan was cautious.

"I don't really like to look that far ahead," she said. "I take it one game at a time, one point at a time."