2017-18 IN REVIEW: An 8-16 overall record was highlighted by 1) a return to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time in four years, and 2) two times in which Ashland went 3-1 in a four-match stretch.
THE YOUTH MOVEMENT CONTINUES: The Eagles' 2017-18 wins leader was freshman Anna Hart, who recorded 16 victories as a rookie – 10 in singles and six in doubles. Junior Natalie Keron was next in line with 15 wins (eight singles, seven doubles), followed by freshmen Hazuki Ogino (13 – eight singles, five doubles) and Camille Ringot (11 – six singles, five doubles).
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2018-19: Going from one win in 2016-17 to eight in 2017-18 is an impressive step. What are the goals for 2018-19?
"To keep improving and keep building on the foundation of our team culture of attitude and effort," said Lexi Bolesky, in her third season as Eagle women's tennis head coach and first as Ashland's Director of Tennis Operations, "getting the grades, putting the work in on the court. If we do those things, good things happen."
With 12 players in the fold for the upcoming season, Bolesky has a luxury of depth she hasn't yet had with the Eagles. Keron and Chelsea Myers are the team's seniors, and juniors Allison Brooks (2017) and Brianna Brdicka (2016) each have been All-GLIAC honorable mention picks.
"We definitely have a full roster this year," said Bolesky. "I think 12 is a perfect number. It's great for practice. It's great for options of different doubles pairings. We do have that depth, which I'm really excited about. The five incoming freshmen, they're coming from all over, so they're bringing some different personalities, but they all love tennis. They're all super-nice girls. They're all coming to AU for the right reasons. I'm excited for the whole squad to be back.
"You can pull this player out and this player out. I'm a big believer in the team. If you are (No.) 1 or 12, you're an integral part of the team. You're a contributing member. It's about the buy-in."
Ashland got a taste of conference tournament play last year. The next step is to win there.
"Any time you keep score, you want to win. That's just the competitiveness of playing sports," Bolesky said. "(We're) not putting so much pressure on the winning, but making sure we're doing the right things – making sure we're getting better every day, making sure we're stronger, make sure the team's coming together.
"When you do everything right, and you get better every day, you set yourself up for success."