Three nights a week after 7 p.m., the Emerson women’s tennis team sprints up and down the green hard courts in Watertown, Mass. It’s one of the few available practice spaces nearby that has lights, which for autumn nights is an obvious necessity.
But the twilight practices don’t weaken the energy of the team. According to head coach Gavin Barton, the sound of tennis balls pounding the pavement beats in unison with something else, something he said he often doesn’t recognize.
The song “Barbie Girl” by Aqua often beats through the bass at the sunset workouts, energizing the team.
The song is part of a ’90s music playlist created by co-captain Lacey Russell.
“We have a bunch of Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child — we even had Aqua and A-Teens,” said the junior marketing major. “That’s the favorite playlist.”
Assisting Russell in motivating the team at each practice and game is her fellow co-captain Savannah Mosser.
“It really pumps us up and gets us working hard,” Mosser said about the music.
But the duo does more than create a fun atmosphere. Mosser and Russell are the top players in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
Mosser was named GNAC Player of the Year in 2010. In 2011, she finished 11-2 overall, and she remains undefeated in conference play this year.
Russell was named GNAC Rookie of the Year in 2010. She was also named to the 2011 GNAC First Team and the First Team Doubles, finishing her season with only two losses. This year, Russell only has one loss in conference play.
Although this is his first season at Emerson, Barton said the skill and close relationship Russell and Mosser have were evident from his first days coaching them.
“I saw that dynamic early on,” Barton said. “The balance they create make them a nice pair for the energetic team.”
The power of the pair is evident on the court, as well, where the two perform as a doubles team with Russell taking the net and Mosser covering the ground behind. The pair is currently 7-0.
Minh Pham has been on the tennis team for two years and said she is good friends with both Russell and Mosser. She said that the twosome does a great job of bringing the whole team together.
“Progressively the team is just getting closer,” Pham said. “I just enjoy hanging out with them. We’re always laughing.”
Barton said he agrees that the co-captains bring more to the lineup than their outstanding skills.
“[Mosser] and [Russell] are the driving forces behind getting the team going, and they do a good job as captains,” Barton said. “Mosser is the mom, she’s said so herself. Russell is the energy in the team, always laughing and joking with the other girls.”
Unlike at the high school level, when a match is lost in college athletics, it counts as a point against the team. When one athlete loses a match, Russell said she tries to ensure it won’t cause any tension.
“We try to set up dinner and make it a team atmosphere,” Russell said. “I like to joke with the girls.”
With four matches left before playoffs, Mosser and Russell said they are hoping for a GNAC title.
But as for the team’s practice playlist, Barton said as long as it’s not too loud, it’s OK by him.
“Makes no difference to me,” he said.
Heidi Moeller, Beacon Staff, contributed to this article. Alanna Grady, sport editor and member of the Emerson women’s tennis team, did not edit this article.