Mountaineers successful in Longhorn Invitational
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 07:09
The West Virginia women’s tennis team traveled to Austin, Texas, last weekend, to compete in the Longhorn Invitational, a tournament that featured the highest level of competition the program has faced in its history.
"I think it went pretty well," said head coach Tina Samara. "The level of competition was way higher than anything we’ve seen in the past."
Dealing with an inexperienced team, Samara believes the high level of competition at tournaments like the Longhorn Invitational will provide the Mountaineers with valuable information for their fall season.
"(Fall) prepares them for the competition they are going to see during the dual-match season," Samara said. "Because of the individual aspects of tennis, this time is really important. If (team members) come in really prepared after the summer, they can get some really good opportunities to get some wins in the fall that they might not get in the spring.
"That can potentially get them into the NCAA tournament or the All-American tournament the following year."
Arguably the most successful Mountaineer last weekend was freshman Hailey Barret. Barret dropped her opening singles match on day one of the competition, but came back on day two ready to play. Barret beat both Natalie Hand of Texas-San Antonio and Liselot Koenen of Houston in straight sets. After two victories Saturday, Barret battled before losing the next match in three sets.
"Hailey just got a little tight, and that was her issue all tournament; she got a little tight in the bigger points in the bigger games," Samara said. "That’s nothing that we are worried about at all because that’s normal playing your first tournaments in college.
"To go three sets against that level of player right off the bat, we are pretty excited about (it)."
Barret has shined while playing for the Mountaineers. Samara attributes the freshman’s success to her commitment to the game year-round.
"Hailey played all summer, and that’s exactly why Hailey is doing well," Samara said. "She hasn’t used the fall to get back into shape physically or mentally.
"With Hailey, you are talking about a 6-foot kid who’s only going to get faster, stronger and mentally tougher. Barring any major injuries, she is going to be a very exciting kid to follow for the next couple of years."
While Barret looks to leave her mark on the program, senior Emily Mathis continues to leave her mark on the Mountaineer tennis team. One of only two returning players, Mathis won two singles matches this weekend, including her final match of the season. As the only returning senior, Mathis continues to lead the Mountaineers by example.
"Emily always has been the one that competes every time she is on the court," Samara said. "She has improved in some areas, and that is why we are seeing the results we are seeing.
"Because she works every day and competes every day in practice, she is improving."
As Samara and the Mountaineers continue their tournament season, the coach would like to see more of Mathis’ leadership skills in the rest of the team.
"In my book, leadership can come from every person on the team," Samara said. "Everyone on the team can bring a leadership quality, and it starts with hard work."