Duquesne women’s tennis falls to Pitt, defeats Saint Joe’s

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne Sophomore Julianne Herman returns a ball to her St. Bonaventure opponent on April 6, 2016.

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne Sophomore Julianne Herman returns a ball to her St. Bonaventure opponent on April 6, 2016.

By David Borne | Staff Writer

This past weekend was a big one for the Duquesne Dukes women’s tennis team, as it featured a match against the rival Pittsburgh Panthers along with its first Atlantic 10 match of the season against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks.

The Red & Blue began the weekend with Pittsburgh at the Alpha Tennis and Fitness Center, a building that both teams call home court.  Duquesne saw wins from sophomore Julianne Herman, junior Ally Miller and freshman Laurel Shymansky, in the singles competition. However the Dukes were unable to grab a win in any of the three doubles matches. Therefore, the Panthers won the doubles point and the match by a score of 4-3.

First year head coach Vanessa Steiner mentioned just how much the match against Pittsburgh means to her team.

“We train at the same facility, so we see them every single day,” Steiner said. “It’s our City Game, and the players get really excited about it. It’s an intense match, and it’s always competitive. It’s our rivalry, so we always get hyped up about it.”

On top of being a match with city bragging rights at stake, it also serves as great preparation for Duquesne’s A-10 matches.

“It gives them a practice match for that intensity,” Steiner said. “Some of the other matches, they’re non-conference and while they’re still intense because the girls team takes every match very seriously, it’s a little added pressure. Especially since we are both playing on our home courts every time we play them. That little bit of added pressure will make the conference matches a bit easier.”

Steiner went on to mention that even though her team was narrowly edged out by the Panthers, the support and passion shown by the team was something to be admired.

“For the Pitt match one of the things that stood out was the team unity,” Steiner said. “The team is so supportive of one another, and that isn’t something that we practice, or I harp on them about, it just comes naturally. Every win means the same to the person on the court or off the court, and that is important.”

Duquesne had to shift its focus the next day to the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. The Dukes shook of the loss to Pittsburgh the night before and dominated SJU by a score of 7-0. Kylie Isaacs, a junior and the team’s No. 1 singles player, was thrilled with the wins over the Hawks.

“It was huge,” Isaacs said. “They’re always one above us or below us in the A-10 standings so that was huge to shut them out. That was a really great way to start our in conference season. We were really excited to get our first win in the conference.”

With two additional important matches coming up this weekend, Isaacs added that if the team can start off strong and lock down the doubles point, there’s a good chance they will end up on the right side of the scoreboard at the end of the match.

“The doubles point is so huge,” Isaacs said.  “We start with the doubles matches, so if we can get that first point going into the singles you have that momentum and you’re already up a point on the board. Mentally that puts us a little bit ahead going into the singles. So if we can come out really strong on the doubles, and just go beast-mode and attack, that would be huge.”

Duquesne will travel to St. Bonaventure on Saturday for their second conference match, and then will return home to face Carnegie Mellon on Sunday.

The Dukes shutout St. Bonaventure 7-0 and defeated CMU 4-3 last season.

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