Tennis season looks promising

Jason Stamm

After a combined 11 matches by Western’s men’s and women’s tennis teams, a good deal has been seen of how this season might play out.

The men have compiled a record of 3-3 thus far, and seen signs of promise. In singles play, sophomores Stan Rabinovics and Franco Serra at seeds two and three, respectively, have records of 5-1. More impressive however is the string of five wins in a row by Serra.

“Franco has made incredible strides and I think he has improved more than anyone,” coach Jeff True said. “Stan has stayed steady but I know he wants to improve outdoors.”

At No. 1, junior Mikus Paipars has a more modest 3-2 mark thus far after struggling somewhat in a few matches.

“We’ve been doing good so far, especially with such a young team,” Paipars said. “But I’m still not quite satisfied with my performance to this point.”

In doubles action, the bright spot has been the combo of Paipars and Rabinovics at the No. 1 slot. The junior/sophomore tandem has run their record to an impressive 5-1 mark.

“To be 5-1 at No. 1 doubles is a big accomplishment and they’ve no doubt improved,” True said. “I think doubles is a big reflection of the coaching they’re getting though, because strategy is such a key part to doubles.”

On the women’s side, the Lady Toppers currently sport a 2-3 record after five matches. In singles, Western continues to be led by sophomore No. 1 Karina Ledaja who is 4-1 on the season and looked dominant at times, including her last match, a 6-0, 6-2 win.

“That one loss was a pretty big breakdown for a while,” Ledaja said. “I feel pretty confident now, but I think that I still need to work more on my second serve and footwork.”

In doubles, the No. 1 pairing of Ledaja and fellow sophomore Ieva Balcus has been unbeatable. The duo have run to the tune of an impressive 5-0 record thus far.

“Karina and Ieva weren’t as good when they first came here, but they’ve really improved,” True said. “They’re active at the net and serving much better.”

Another looming factor facing both teams is the move of home matches outdoors. The teams have played all their home matches to this point at the indoor courts of Tennistown.

“I separate the season to indoor and outdoor,” True said. “Our indoor play was basically as we expected. What remains to be seen is how well we shift gears to play outdoors.”

After just five matches by the women and six on the men’s side, however, there’s still a lot of tennis left to play this spring.

“We’re starting to warm up,” Balcus said. “We’ve played some strong teams but hopefully we can get the team together and be even better.”

Reach Jason Stamm at [email protected].