Women’s tennis heading towards a championship

Derik Wuchte

Women’s tennis has been riding on an impressive season with new head coach, Michelle Stanford. The team is 9-3 and hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. The Sun Belt Conference Championship starts on April 16, and with Stanford leading now, this might be the year Southern takes home a major trophy.


Stanford was a graduate student last year as she helped the team. What she has done this year wasn’t to reinvent them, but understand them better.

“They’ve been training really hard this year, and making sure to still have fun,” Stanford said. “We’ve done a lot of off-court team activity, and it’s definitely shown through on the courts.”

Tennis is an individual sport. When combined into a competitive team atmosphere, every player needs to contribute to the team wins. Like Stanford explained, “Each player plays a big role; each person is accountable to gain their own point.”

Freshman Anne Kurzweil has been competing in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. In singles play this season, she has gone undefeated, contributing one team point for the Eagles every meet. “Superstar” was one of the words Stanford used to describe her.

Kurzweil and other big players on the team, like senior Jordana Klein and junior Mary Phillips Smith at the No. 1 and No. 2 lines, have been earning key wins to push the Eagles to their victories. It’s kept the Eagles undefeated in the Sun Belt. With only five competitions left until the conference championship, everything seems to be coming together for the Eagles.


It’s not to be forgotten that this is the first year Georgia Southern is in the Sun Belt Conference. Looking to a conference win isn’t the pressure Stanford has wanted to put on the players, but it is something the team has wanted since January.

“At the beginning of the season, [a conference win] was one of the goals the girls wrote down,” Stanford said.

Each player had written down their expectations before league play had started. Those expectations have meant a good deal to the team’s composition and standing.

Stanford said that while Southern has been playing extremely well, they have yet to see the best of the Sun Belt. The upcoming meets in April against the past champions, Georgia State, and competitive rivals, South Alabama, will set the precedence for Southern’s chances in the championship.

On top of those teams, Southern also doesn’t see the other half of the Sun Belt. With how the conference is split with teams like the University of Texas at Arlington and New Mexico State being so far away, all the Sun Belt teams aren’t seen until mid-April. It leaves a lot of mystery for the teams, especially in a single tournament to decide everything.


When asking Stanford about the biggest challenge for the team until the championship, she replied, “Keeping up the confidence; not letting the team drop off.”

The women have worked very hard to this point, but in a high stakes tournament, anything can happen. Depending on how the team does against Georgia State and South Alabama, a championship win is a serious consideration. The team has had crazy strides this season. With five meets left, Southern will have their opportunity to prove themselves.

Saturday, March 28 will be home competition play against Bethune-Cookman University at the Wallis Tennis Center. That following Sunday will be the University of South Carolina Upstate, also at the Wallis Tennis Center. Both meets will start at 10 a.m. for the Eagles.