Women’s Tennis Nets Success in Preparation for NEC Tournament

The Sacred Heart University (SHU) women’s tennis team have been on a roll in their 2024 season, achieving a 13-3 record, with only a handful of matches remaining until the upcoming Northeast Conference (NEC) tournament. The Pioneers aim to finish the season strong but will be faced with tough opponents along the way.

Head Coach Mike Guastelle, who oversees both the men’s and women’s teams has led the Pioneers to an impressive 13-3 record, with four more games left in the regular season.

“We have some tough opponents coming up, and it’ll give us a good indication on where we are going into our conference tournament,” said Guastelle. “Other than that, things have gone well for us so far, so I don’t have much to complain about.”

Guastelle also spoke about this year’s group, and the level of talent that they bring on the court.

“There’s a mental toughness to this group that I don’t think I’ve ever had with other teams,” said Guastelle. “Even when we don’t play well, we figure it out, and we’re able to play those matches that are close where it’s three sets or two tight sets, tiebreakers, we usually come through in those moments.”

Guastelle added, “They’re a mentally tough group, and they play with a lot of grit. I think that’s what separates this group from others.”

Senior Katsiaryna Starastsenka has flourished with the Pioneers this season, winning NEC Player of the Week on March 7, and was also named Player of the Month for February.

“I try not to focus on the awards and every match I just try to go on court and help my team to win,” said Starastsenka. “We all have been practicing very hard and worked a lot to become better and it is nice to feel that all the hard work is paying off.”

The Pioneers have two matches left before the NEC tournament.

“We have already won some very tough matches against very good teams, and I think we just need to be confident in our abilities and go on the court to fight hard to show that we have worked a lot to become a better team,” said Starastsenka.

Senior Kim Fenton reiterated the confidence that the Pioneers have built on throughout their long season.

“We just have to go into the matches confident and believe that we deserve to be on the court just as much as them,” said Fenton. “We have the skill and fight, I think it comes down to our self-belief in the end and making sure we utilize our strengths in the matches.”

SHU is looking to bounce back from their previous season.

“Last year we made the finals for the first time in program history and that was great,” said Guastelle. “But this year, we’re looking to change that, and we want to win the NEC tournament.”

The Pioneers road to the NEC tournament won’t be an easy task, as they are scheduled against Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU) on Saturday, March 30 in Teaneck, N.J., and Stonehill College on April 6 in Easton, Mass.

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