Serving…in Florida

There can’t be anything better than being in Florida for spring break right? How about playing TENNIS in Florida?? Both men’s and women’s tennis teams were down in Orlando, Florida for spring break week competing in five national match-ups each. Spring break is a great opportunity for both teams to bond on and off the court, and work on techniques and court plays to bring back to Collegeville.

The Bears arrived in Florida in the late afternoon of Saturday, March 4th and finished out the day getting settled into their houses. Sunday, March 5th, the Bears got the rackets moving for
a midday sunny practice at the USTA (United States Tennis Association) National Campus. The practice was the perfect opportunity for the Bears to acclimate to the 85 degree Florida weather for the rest of the week.

The women finished the week with a 3-2 record, winning against Misericordia, King’s College, and University of North Western (MN). They were edged out in a tight opening match on Monday, March 7th against Concordia (MN) losing 4-5. In the final match of the week, the Lady Bears took a tough 1-8 loss to Otterbein University. The player of the week award for the women goes to sophomore Shannon Stewart. This year Stewart was moved up to third singles, compared to fifth/sixth singles for the 2021-2022 season, and went undefeated in singles on spring break. In addition to going undefeated, Stewart never took a singles match to a third set, she took down all her opponents in straight sets!

Freshman Bella Vassalluzzo and junior Avery Samer are the third doubles team and were on an almost perfect streak. Going 4-1 for the week solidified a couple of matches for the Bears at that spot in the doubles lineup. They kept the Bears at 2-1 before starting singles play as opposed to a deeper hole of 3-0. “My first spring break trip in Florida with the team was a blast to say the least! Playing tennis everyday, enjoying the warm weather, and making great memories with my teammates are just a few awe- some activities that took place during the week. Crushing it at third doubles with Avery was the highlight of my trip, looking forward to the rest of the season with her, and cannot wait to do spring break all over again next year!” says Vassalluzzo.

The men had a 4-1 record on spring break, winning against Wentworth Institute of Technology, St. Francis (Ill), King’s College, and University of North Western (MN). Unfortunately, on the last day of break, the men lost in a heart-breaker 4-5 against Otterbein University. For the men, the star of the week was junior Darby Rogers, who went undefeated in singles and doubles, 10-0 for the week! Rogers’ performances were critical in matches for the team, but also individually rewarding. With doubles partner Ethan Yu ‘24, the duo cruised through their five matches at second doubles. “Going into spring break every- one has to be focused on both the team aspect and the individual aspect. We want the team to win, but for that to happen we have to do our best as individuals. I felt confident and focused on playing smart tennis, doing everything I could for my team to go undefeated on spring break. Unfortunately we came up little short, but that mentality allowed me to go in and take care of business to go undefeated individually,” says Rogers.

Another valuable player for the men’s team was freshman Andrei Bogdan, who is undefeated in singles for the year. His current singles record overall is 7-0, 6-0 at sixth singles, but during the final match on spring break against Otterbein, Bogdan moved up to fifth. For his first collegiate season, his performance has shown reliability for the back of the lineup for upcoming Centennial Conference matches. “My first spring break was absolutely amazing. The memories I made are the kind of moments you just never forget,” says Bogdan. Regardless of the fun memories off the court in Florida, Bogdan has a drive on the court that has proven to be unbeatable (literally). When I play, I always have the hunger to win. Playing with a team especially motivates me, knowing that I play not only for myself but also for my team. In regards to being undefeated, I could not have asked for a better start to my freshman year. But, while I always want to win, I am grateful for having the opportunity to do the thing I love most, and that is being a tennis player,” says Bogdan.

The Bears, men and women, take on Lebanon Valley this Saturday for their home opener of the spring season! Adjusting back to the Pennsylvania March weather will not be as enjoyable as those 80 degree matches in Florida; nonetheless, go Bears!

Ava Compagnoni