Women’s tennis looks to reclaim conference

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Last season, the Queens College women’s tennis team was recognized as number one in the east, 26th in the country and, for the third consecutive year, made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA championship.

Head coach Alan Nagel and senior co-captains Erika Goldsmith and Daniela Celi pledged that the 2012 season should be no different — and they could add even another accolade.

After having to forfeit three conference wins last year because of the use of an ineligible player, the Lady Knights were unable to reach the East Coast Conference playoffs. The tennis team had made it to the ECC championship the prior 14 consecutive years.

Nagel said he was unaware that the player, who exceeded the amount of years allowed to play on a team after transferring from another school, was ineligible at the time and declined to comment further.

Nagel, who has coached at QC for 34 years, said that the team’s 2011 achievements included making it to the NCAA top 16, beating Hofstra University — a Division I college — and having a 3.42 team GPA, which was the second highest in the athletic department.

QC has made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 before, losing repeatedly in the first round of the tournament, the past 3 years.

“It was only because when we get there we’re not ready mentally or physically compared to other teams,” Celi said. “The other teams have stronger conferences and get to play better teams. I don’t think we played our best at nationals; it wasn’t what we wanted but at least we made it there.”

This year’s team, with three new players and five returning, is composed of members who have either received Division I scholarships, were recruited by Division I colleges or are Division I transfers. Nagel describes his team as dedicated, very talented and a family.

“This season is different since we have so many new girls,” said Goldsmith. “We all work hard and we are still really good, so that hasn’t changed.”

Contrary to possible concerns, the addition of new players has not affected team chemistry, players said. Instead, the addition of the new players increases the competition among the QC team members and, overall, it further strengthens the team itself.

Something the team looks to improve on is getting better at the net, to be more aggressive during doubles and more pouching.

“We have a lot of heart and a great work ethic and I know we will get better at it,” Nagel said.

Last weekend, the team went to Albany to the Siena Fall Classic tournament, which is composed primarily of Division I teams, making QC the only Division II team participating.

“We like to play a lot of DI teams so they can test us, make us better and make us stronger,” Nagel said.

The team’s goal for 2012 is to remain conference champions, make it to Regional’s and get past the first round of the NCAA Sweet 16.

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