Herd Tennis’ Stefancic and Van Hansewyck boost the start of spring season

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Marshall University’s women’s tennis players sophomore Liz Stefancic and freshman Jutte Van Hansewyck received Conference USA’s Student Athletes of the Week after defeating Yale’s nationally ranked number three doubles team on Feb. 14. 

“I think it was really cool to be recognized,” Stefancic said. “We have a lot of good tennis teams in our conference that are highly ranked and win Conference Player of the Week. I think it put an added element of pressure and we felt expected to win the match versus before we were more so the underdogs.” 

Since Stefancic and Van Hansewyck defeated Yale’s doubles team, sophomore Jessie Gong and junior Samantha Martinelli, the Herd doubles team is now ranked 39th in the country. 

Stefancic and Van Hansewyck have been partners since the Herd went up against Furman on Feb. 9. With less than a month competing together as partners, they have won three of their five matches together. 

“We have a lot of work to do,” Van Hansewyck said. “People expect you to constantly be playing on the same level and that puts pressure on you.” 

More recently, Marshall began Conference USA play began by defeating the University of North Texas 4-3 on Feb. 21. 

In doubles matches, Stefancic and Van Hansewyck defeated senior Alexandra Heczey and freshman Hala Khaled Badwy 7-5. Following, graduate student Madison Riley and sophomore Madi Ballow defeated freshman Kexuan Zhou and freshman Sophia Hummel 6-2.

In singles matches, Stefancic, Riley and junior Anna Smith were all victorious.

Stefancic defeated Zhou, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Followed by Riley who defeated Hummel, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 and Smith defeated Heczey, 6-3, 6-0.

“I think the most difficult parts about tennis is losing or winning a hard match and then the next weekend getting to do it all again,” Stefancic said. “We are getting ready to work and have been put in tough situations over and over again.” 

In their next match on Feb. 23, the Herd competed against Florida International University and lost 4-0.

“I think it was the first match that we really lost 4-0,” Van Hansewyck said. “I think we have to reset and shake it off to be mentally ready. We need to learn from the experience and maybe work on the important points in order to have good game plans again.” 

The Herd did not win in doubles matches, but in singles matches, Smith, Riley and Ballow won against FIU.

Smith defeated sophomore Kamilla Umarova 6-3, 5-6. Ballow defeated junior Mariana Alcaide 7-5, 6-2, 3-1 and Riley defeated freshman Francisca Vergara 6-1, 3-0.

“Our games matched up very well against UNT and then still matched up well against FIU,” Stefancic said. “We are not always going to play 100% every day and that is one of many difficult things about tennis. I think there was a lot of factors of why we beat North Texas on Friday versus why we lost to FIU on Sunday.”

The next match is set for 4 p.m. Friday Feb. 28 against Winthrop University. 

Stormy Randazzo can be contacted at [email protected]