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Tennis club heads to nationals as underdogs

The Dalhousie University Tigers tennis club’s women’s and men’s teams are both heading to the Canadian University Tennis Championships this August after winning the Atlantic University Tennis League (AUTL) on March 4.

The women’s and men’s teams qualified at the same for nationals within minutes at the Sobeys Atlantic Tennis Centre in Bedford, N.S., with the men’s team qualifying first.

“They didn’t celebrate too loudly,” said co-president and player Ashley Stringer.

After a season of hard work and focus on going to nationals, the teams will shift their focus to training over the summer.

“We were obviously saying it all year we want to get to nationals,” said Stringer.

Once again making nationals, not only does tennis continue to grow for the Tigers but for Atlantic Canada too.

“I think, in general, a lot of the other teams are probably hoping that they get the Atlantic seed in their semifinal,” said co-president Payton Nicol. “I definitely think going into nationals, we do have something to prove and show that we do belong and honestly, I do think that this year we have a strong team.”

Stringer said even on the junior level, others had their doubts about Atlantic Canadian tennis.

“Whenever we would go to nationals on the junior scale, it was the same thing. People hoped that they would get the Atlantic player and then it was always really fun proving them wrong on the court and beating them.”

Stringer said growing the female tennis game is a big point of emphasis within Nova Scotia.

“As a team, we really focused on not only having women on the team but also us playing at a high level was a big focus the whole year,” said Stringer. “Making sure that they were training and getting better. So winning and booking that ticket to nationals was just super rewarding because all the hard work that we’ve done for the past couple of years just kind of came all together in that moment.”

Nationals will be held on-site during the National Bank Open, a professional tennis tournament held annually. The women’s team will play in Montreal and the men in Toronto.

Nationals requires the teams to go a lot deeper into their rosters, said the team captains, making conditioning vital. 

“It’s a lot of tennis, there’s really good players, so it’s really going to be tiring. We have to make sure our levels are up, that our tennis levels are up but also our fitness is also there as well,” said Nicols.

With professionals being around for the weekend for the National Bank Open, Dal will be playing with eyes watching internationally. Making nationals will help with the tennis club’s ability to recruit players.

“It’s a good level, there’s good opportunities, good competition and I can keep getting better and improving while in school,” said Nicols.

COVER: Dalhousie Tennis Club


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