UPDATE, Tuesday. 4/25: The Bulldogs lost the tournament championship match 5-4 to Tusculum on Saturday afternoon in a third-set tiebreaker in the No. 4 singles match. Wingate, now 17-4, will learn its postseason destination when the NCAA Division II tournament field is announced tonight.
Brandon Bowles, Staff Writer
It was another successful season for Wingate University Women’s Tennis, as they’ve successfully won with a 16-3 overall (11- 0 SAC). This year’s SAC Women’s Tennis Tournament will be held in Rock Hill, South Carolina starting Thursday April 20th. Wingate will begin their chase for a SAC tournament championship on Friday at 1 P.M. against either Anderson, or Carson-Newman.
Head coach Michael Cabana, who is in his 11th year has enjoyed continued success since taking the head coaching job. Women’s Tennis has posted a staggering 59-1 record since 2011.
Along the way they have earned 115 total conference wins in program history 48 straight conference wins, seven straight SAC tiles 11 total in program history, and five undefeated SAC seasons. Just like most of Wingate’s other athletic teams Women’s Tennis is competitive.
This no doubt helps establish a culture that student athletes are proud to be a part of. Recruiting players becomes easier because you have the numbers to back up the claims that you make about your program. This season Women’s Tennis was able to have seven players earn conference with coach Cabana being named coach of the year.
This year’s team has a mixture of upper and lower classmen and “having a mixture of youth and experience is key”, said Cabana. When he first took the job, Cabana thought that he had to control everything, but through the years he has learned to give the upper classmen more responsibility.
Coach Cabana has what he calls a council, this a group of seniors that are responsible for being the eyes and ears when Cabana is not around. They are tasked with showing the freshmen the way the team is run.
Not only is this council used to lead by setting an example for the underclassmen in understanding what it takes to be a part of the program, but they are also used as mentors for them. Before establishing the senior leadership council Cabana would be stressed before matches because he thought he had to do everything to make sure that the team was in the right mindset to perform well in matches.
The senior council has taken a lot off Cabana’s plate. He has become more composed during match days because the team knows how to prepare for matches through the examples set by the upperclassmen.
Underclassmen are able to lean on the experience of the upperclassmen when things get tough throughout the season. The team knows that they are going to get the best from their opponents and they cannot afford to have a bad match.
Now that the regular season is over, it is time for the SAC Tournament. What makes the tournament different is that it is one and done. “You only have to be good for four days,” said Cabana. The mindset of playing in a tournament is the same for each team, they know what is at stake and know that they must play their best game for each match, or their season is over.
That is another reason why having experience on the team is key because they have been there before and know what to expect. They in turn can take their experience and teach the lowerclassmen how to handle certain situations.
This year’s SAC Women’s Tennis Tournament will be held in Rock Hill, South Carolina starting Thursday April 20th. Wingate will begin their chase for a SAC tournament championship on Friday at 1 P.M. against either Anderson, or Carson-Newman.
Photo source: Wingate Athletics
Edited by: Brea Childs